Minister ‘prepared to resign’ over Army cuts

Defence minister Tobias Ellwood is prepared to resign if massive cuts to the Army are given the go-ahead, according to a report.

The cuts would see the Army lose 12,000 soldiers, leaving its full-time strength at just 70,000.

Mr Ellwood shared his “deep discomfort” with colleagues about a list of cost-saving options facing the Ministry of Defence, according to a report in The Times.

The newspaper said that he had indicated he would step down if the military was not protected from the proposed cuts.

Mr Ellwood served in the Royal Green Jackets from 1991 to 1996 with tours in Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Kuwait, Germany, Gibraltar and Bosnia.

Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood was among those who attempted to help the injured police officer

Image: The Conservative MP was among those who tried to help PC Palmer

The Bournemouth East MP is now in the Army Reserve and bravely tried to save the life of police officer Keith Palmer, who was stabbed by a terrorist outside the Palace of Westminster in March.

The image of Mr Ellwood, face bloodied, fighting to keep PC Palmer alive came to define the day that terror struck at the heart of London.

He was appointed to the Privy Council in recognition of the bravery he showed.

Asked if Mr Ellwood was known to have concerns about the prospect of cuts to the military, a senior defence source told the Press Association: “Absolutely.”

The Times also said a source had told them that Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson had been shocked by the “completely awful” proposals.

Gavin Williamson

Image: Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson was reportedly shocked by the ‘completely awful’ proposals

Other possible cuts were thought to include reducing the order for Ajax armoured vehicles, delaying tank upgrades, axing amphibious assault ships HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark and the loss of 1,000 Royal Marines.

An MoD spokesman said: “We have the biggest defence budget in Europe and are one of very few countries to not only meet but exceed NATO’s 2% spending target.

“In the face of intensifying threats, we are contributing to the cross-government review of national security capabilities and looking at how we best spend the rising defence budget to protect our country.

“No decisions have been made and any discussion of the options is pure speculation.”