Amid warnings of emerging defence and security threats, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson is thought to be pushing Her Majesty’s Treasury to stump up more cash for the Armed Forces.
The Budget is two weeks away and although the Government has pledged to spend [£178bn] on defence equipment in the next ten years, the Public Accounts Committee has insisted the MOD needs to find a further £5 to 20 billion for procurement.
But the MOD has not been having much luck getting money out of the Treasury in recent years; the pay review body’s recommendation of a 2.9% pay rise for servicemen and women was blocked by the Treasury and the eventual 2% pay rise came out of the MOD’s existing budget.
The Mail on Sunday has reported that the rift between the MOD and the Treasury is so deep that Williamson threatened to close RAF Marham, the home of Britain’s new F-35s fighter jets.
The airbase just so happens to be the constituency of Chief Secretary of the Treasury, Liz Truss.
Such gossip can never be verified and the MOD has denied the charge, pointing out it had just spent £250 million upgrading Marham. However, at the Conservative party conference, Truss deadpanned:
“After recently dealing with a request from one Secretary of State, I woke up the next day to find a tarantula in my bed.”
She later said she was referring to Scottish Secretary, David Mundell, but Gavin Williamson is the only known cabinet minister to own a tarantula.