MP challenges cuts in navy

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DEFENCE secretary Phillip Hammond has been challenged by Rotherham MP Denis MacShane over the decision to scrap aircraft carriers and sell off the Harrier fleet of warplanes that can be flown from naval vessels.

Mr MacShane, a former Foreign Office junior minister, said Britain is no longer a serious maritime power because of the cuts

He said: “As we have a base in Gibraltar, the use of a NATO base in southern Italy, and Cyprus, of course we can handle Libya from fixed bases. If we have a crisis anywhere else, such as a new Sierra Leone or a new Indonesia, where Royal Navy aircraft carriers went down to protect British forces, we would not be able to.

“Will the Secretary of State simply say that for the next 10 years we are no longer a maritime power in terms of air projection?”

Mr Hammond replied: “The Government have been very clear taking the tough decisions will leave us with limitations in the short to medium term. That is to be regretted, but was necessary.”

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