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Fox fires warning shots over defence cuts.

Summary: Liam Fox has warned the Prime Minister of "grave consequences" if "draconian" spending cuts are made while the country is at war.

Defence secretary Liam Fox has warned the Prime Minister of "grave consequences" if "draconian" spending cuts are made while the country is at war.

In a private letter leaked to The Daily Telegraph, he advised David Cameron the risk of "seriously" damaging morale across the Armed Forces "should not be underestimated".

And he warned the Government could provoke a "brutal" international reaction if it failed to "recognise the dangers and continue to push for such draconian cuts at a time when we are at war".

In his letter, written before a National Security Council (NSC) meeting on Tuesday on the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), the Defence Secretary refused to back any substantial reduction in the Armed Forces.

Setting out some specific spending implications, Dr Fox said losing amphibious landing ships would leave the country unable to mount missions such as that in Sierra Leone 10 years ago.

The Navy could be forced to withdraw from areas such as the Indian Ocean, Caribbean or Gulf, while a cancelled Nimrod MR4 reconnaissance plane programme created "some risk" to civil contingent capability around Mumbai-style terror attacks and the 2012 Summer Olympics, he warned.

Dr Fox said he was "appalled" his letter had been handed to the press and would "stop at nothing to ensure that the culprit is found".

"It is entirely normal that ministers should make representations to the Prime Minister during the Strategic Defence and Security Review and the Comprehensive Spending Review. That is an entirely proper part of the process of government," he said.

"The Prime Minister is fully entitled to expect that those representations to be made in private and kept private. I am extremely angry that this confidential communication has been made public."

Independent Television News Limited 2010. All rights reserved.

Independent Television News Limited 2009. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Independent Television News Limited (ITN)
Date:Sep 29, 2010
Words:334
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