Thursday, June 30, 2005

Blair Attacked Over Navy Ships Numbers

Prime Minister Tony Blair was today attacked over the size of the Royal Navy’s fleet, the day after celebrations marking the 200th anniversary year of Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar. Shadow defence minister Gerald Howarth, at Commons question time, raised comments attributed to First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Alan West, drawing a loud roar of approval from Tories as he mentioned the battle. “As we celebrate – indeed some of us had the great privilege of so doing unashamedly yesterday – the bicentenary of Admiral Nelson’s magnificent naval victory over the French, how do you respond to the concerns expressed by the First Sea Lord who has stated that the Government is taking a risk by cutting the Royal Navy’s fleet of destroyers and frigates from 32 to 25? “Do you not think that Her Majesty’s Armed Forces have served you better than that and that you ought to reciprocate by giving the means to do the job that you keep asking them to do?” Mr Howarth asked. Mr Blair brushed off the question. “We are, of course, giving them the means,” he said “In fact, as opposed to a Conservative Government that cut defence spending by 30% – oh yes and you supported those cuts of 30% – we are actually increasing defence spending, including major new procurement of vessels for the Royal Navy. “So we won’t take any lessons, either about Trafalgar or the Royal Navy, from you.”

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