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Last updated: May 29, 2013 10:36 pm
Philip Hammond has raised the stakes ahead of next month’s spending review, insisting that the Ministry of Defence cannot make any further substantial cuts without undermining British security.
The defence secretary warned that making anything more than efficiency savings would require a renewed consultation on the UK’s military capabilities.
Mr Hammond told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We should be very clear that there is a difference between efficiency savings, which may be difficult to achieve but are painless in terms of the impact on the front line, and output cuts, which are of a very different order and require proper and mature consideration . . . about the impact that they will have on our military capabilities.”
His words suggest the possibility that the 2010 strategic defence and security review could be reopened if the chancellor insists that he makes the 5 per cent cuts he has been asked to plan for. David Cameron has ruled out reopening the consultation, which took months of negotiation to agree.
Mr Hammond insisted he was not a “hold out” on George Osborne’s attempts to force Whitehall departments to agree a further £11.5bn in cuts for 2015/16. The chancellor is threatening defiant ministers with a “star chamber” of senior colleagues who will examine their spending plans if they fail to reach a deal.
Senior Conservatives are irritated that Mr Hammond has recently spoken out not just against MoD cuts, but also against the prime minister’s positions on gay marriage and EU membership.
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