Cabinet civil war breaks out over UK defence budget as Penny Mordaunt issues stark warning over the decline in the size of the Royal Navy

  • Penny Mordaunt mentioned the Royal Navy should ‘hold tempo’ with Russia and China
  • Defence Secretary Grant Shapps dismissed the important remark as ‘opinion’
  • The Royal Navy has seen its size collapse from 232 ships in 1960 to 30 in 2022 

Penny Mordaunt triggered a Cabinet row over defence spending yesterday after warning that the Royal Navy should ‘hold tempo’ with Russia and China.

The former defence secretary broke Cabinet conference by warning that the decline in the size of the power over the final century was a menace to British pursuits.

Grant Shapps, the Defence Secretary, dismissed her feedback as simply an ‘opinion’ and didn’t say when defence spending can be elevated.

The Royal Navy fleet has lowered from 232 ships, together with eight plane carriers in 1960, to 30 in 2022, together with two new plane carriers. There are additionally warnings {that a} recruitment disaster might result in the decommissioning of two ships.

Cabinet ministers are sure by collective duty and have a tendency to not intervene in each other’s briefs, however Ms Mordaunt, the Commons Leader and an honorary captain in the Royal Navy reserves, issued her warning forward of the Budget on March 6.

Ex-defence secretary Penny Mordaunt broke Cabinet ranks by warning that the decline of the Royal Navy was a menace to British pursuits
Grant Shapps, the present Defence Secretary, dismissed her feedback as simply an ‘opinion’ and didn’t say when defence spending can be elevated

She mentioned: ‘The Royal Navy and its companions should hold tempo with the rising capabilities of different nations. If not, Britain’s pursuits can’t be secured.’ 

In an article in The Sunday Times, she mentioned: ‘We should not simply ask ourselves by how a lot Russia and China are growing their fleets, however why.’

‘The future Royal Navy should have the ability to proceed to safe our pursuits, that are solely predicated on having the ability to thwart makes an attempt to disclaim us entry to the seas of sure components of the world.’

The warning from Ms Mordaunt, a former management contender, isn’t more likely to have gone down nicely with Mr Shapps.

Asked about her feedback, he mentioned: ‘I’m in a publish the place there are loads of folks with opinions, and loads of individuals who’ve been in the army and armed forces will typically specific them.’

Last Monday the Defence Secretary warned that the UK was going through a ‘pre-war world’ and highlighted dangers from China, Russia, Iran and North Korea.

He was requested about the Conservative pledge to boost defence spending to 2.5 per cent of GDP on the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg, however failed to supply a date. 

The Royal Navy has shrunk to only 30 ships, down from over 200 in the 1960s

Mr Shapps has beforehand referred to as for defence spending to be elevated to 3 per cent of GDP. However, he defended the Chancellor’s plans to chop taxes forward of the Budget, saying ‘folks do need to see extra of the cash that they earn saved’.

Lord Dannatt, a former chief of the normal employees of the British Army, warned final week that military numbers had fallen from 102,000 in 2006 to 74,000 immediately. But Mr Shapps insisted the size of the military wouldn’t dip beneath 73,000 below the Tories.

He additionally referred to as on Europe to ‘step up’ and provides Ukraine extra funding after the UK supplied a brand new monetary package deal for the nation.

He informed Ms Kuenssberg: ‘Britain has, once more, as with all of these different issues, led the means with a £2.5billion package deal and a safety settlement, a cooperation settlement with President Zelensky and Ukraine. Now… not simply America, however Europe must step up and do their half to verify Ukraine can proceed to defend herself.’

The spending row additionally comes amid hovering tensions in the Middle East following the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war.

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