For a while then, it looked as though Britain and France really were going to share aircraft carriers
as a mesure d'austérité
. But, today, Liam Fox seems to have put
a block on the idea, describing it in Paris as "utterly unrealistic"
. He did, though, add
that we could pool some of our transport planes and helicopters with the French (which sounds like the military equivalent of hitching a lift, if we happen to be going in the same direction). And
Fox's spokesman has since said
that there still might be "strategic co-operation across the maritime domain," whatever
that means. So some sort of link-up with the French should be expected.
Fiscally speaking, ruling out carrier sharing could leave the MoD struggling to find more savings as it scrabbles to fund a nuclear deterrent. But, politically speaking, it could make the
coalition's life a little easier. As George Eaton says over at the New Statesman blog, Nigel Farage's
entry into Ukip leadership race reminds us of how the coalition might be exposed on its right. Sharing our flagships with the French would have done little to limit that exposure.