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Shadow Defence Minister responds to Government’s military personnel cuts

Stephen Morgan MP has warned the Government’s decision to cut the Army numbers by 10,000 is a ‘mistake’, following the confirmation of the Army’s restructuring today.

It comes as the government published its Defence Command Paper this afternoon, alongside the Integrated Review that was disclosed last week, outlining the government’s defence and security plans for the next five years and beyond.

The Portsmouth South MP has recognised in principle the need to modernise the UK Armed Forces to equip them to respond to present and future threats, but has cast serious doubts over the government’s ability to deliver, pointing to its track record on full-time UK personnel numbers and defence spending plans announced in last year’s Spending Review.

As of January 2021, the UK full-time Armed Forces strength fell short of its 2015 SDSR targets across all services, with the full-time trained strength of the UK Armed Forces 135,444, a shortfall of 8,756 (6%) against the government’s own target of 144,200.

In last year’s Spending Review, the government also revealed that it plans to cut day-to-day spending by 2.7% in real terms over the next 4 years, despite plans to invest £16.5bn in projects, but with no clear resource to support and maintain them.

The Shadow Armed Forces Minister and Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, commented:

“This has been a decade of decline for our Armed Services and the government has confirmed today yet again further cuts to Army personnel numbers. Hi-tech equipment is essential, but highly trained personnel are indispensable.

“The pattern of the 2010 and 2015 reviews was to cut and restructure defence capabilities based on budgetary constraints, rather than meeting threats. Today it was confirmed to be more of the same.

“The PM said he was ending an “era of retreat” with his government’s vision of a ‘global Britain’ in the Integrated Review published last week, but any new cuts will only extend this era of retreat and significantly limit our Forces ability to deploy overseas, support allies and be a force for good in the world.”