Peter Hoskin

Waiting for the autumn

Waiting for the autumn
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A curious, intermediate kind of speech from Liam Fox this morning. The general emphasis on streamlining the armed forces, and shifting power away from Whitehall and towards the military, was welcome. But we're going to have to wait for a trio of reviews before we know what that will look like in practice: the Spending Review, the Strategic Defence Review and a review by the new Defence Reform Unit, chaired by Lord Levene. As Douglas Carswell points out, Levene has fought for choice and competition in defence procurement before now – so we have an idea of where his review will head – but, for the time being, it's still a bit of a waiting game.

 

In which case, Fox's comments on Trident, made in the Q&A after the speech, are about the only part worth noting down:

“Do we require a nuclear deterrent? Yes we do. We live in a very dangerous world. [The Labour government] chose Trident because it was the most efficient and the most cost effective, but we do need to review the costs of that system."

"[Trident] will be paid for ultimately, as it has been, directly via the defence budget. How that budget is funded is a conversation that is constantly ongoing with the Treasury."

Which all sounds pretty unequivocal to me: we should keep Trident and make sure that its cost is factored into any budget settlement for the MoD. I wonder whether the Treasury agrees.