Philip Hammond skewered for being ‘deluded’ after claims the UK only needs 50,000 troops | UK | News

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The fury from the ex-Army officer comes as Mr Hammond and Mr Williamson are holding military talks

Senior cabinet sources recently disclosed that the Chancellor believes the Army would be sufficient at its lowest level since the 1700s.

Johnny Mercer, Conservative MP for Plymouth Moor View, said: “Philip Hammond is deluded if he really believes this.

“We couldn’t even fulfil our NATO commitments with an Army to 50,000, let alone mount a sustained defence of our nation or its dependent territories.”

He also told The Sun: “The Chancellor also appears to have forgotten that reducing the number of our troops by any number would completely breach our election manifesto promise to maintain force levels made only in June.”

The Chancellor’s comments reportedly came during an exchange with former Defence Secretary Michael Fallon in front of Theresa May at Downing Street.

The fury from the ex-Army officer comes as Mr Hammond and newly-appointed Gavin Williamson are holding military talks following the latter’s calls for an extra £2billion in the defence budget.

Mr Hammond’s figure significantly falls behind the size of armies across Europe with France standing at 111,000, Italy at 99,000, Spain coming in at 77,000 and Germany’s 60,000.

Britain’s Army currently sits at 78,000 – recruitment problems have prevented it from reaching its targeted standing strength of 82,000.

Senior military officials reportedly stated last night that a number of 50,000 would not allow the UK to initiate a large-scale invasion or peace-keeping operation again – it was also stated that any war could only be sustained for six months.

Over the weekend a furious Cabinet row broke out over military spending – with allies of Philip Hammond claiming the new Defence Secretary “does not know one end of a rifle from the other”.

Sources close to the Treasury are…

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