David Blackburn

Britannia ruled the waves

Britannia ruled the waves
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As Pete wrote this morning, the plan to share aircraft carriers with France is controversial. It seems that concerns over sovereignty, job losses and differing strategic interests reduce to the one issue that no government has addressed: the protectionist system of defence procurement, which hampers the operational effectiveness of our armed forces. Typically forthright, Douglas Carswell identifies the problem:

‘Seems like protectionist defence procurement isn’t quite giving us sovereign capability the way we were promised, eh?

Had we ordered much of the new carriers to be built overseas, we could have had them at a fraction of the £5 billion cost. But the asinine logic of the Defence Industrial Strategy means that we instead had to have them built in the UK.  

Why? It gives us sovereign capability, we keep being told.

Balls. Instead we end up with British-built carriers that may not have airplanes to put on them - and which we have to share with France.   

So much for the Defence Industrial Strategy giving us sovereign capability.  "May we take le carrier to le Falkland islands, si vous plait, Monsieur?  We give you fish quotas or concede new EU directive against the City in return, oui?"  

The Defence Industrial Strategy is ruining our defence capability. It might suits politicians and their pork barrel politics.  Big defence contractors might love the mega buck contracts it puts their way.  

But the way the Ministry of Defence spends our defence budget means that what economic strength Britain retains is not efficiently converted into military muscle. Too many vested corporate interests are getting in the way.’

This decision’s ramifications are not the fruition of some grotesque EU plot; it is the result of years of fiscal mismanagement and a counter-productive, anti-competitive industrial strategy. Open yourself to the world’s carriers: it's not ideal to open your carriers to the world.