The Government’s decision to continue to build the two aircraft carriers on which hundreds of jobs on Teesside depend was welcomed today by Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham – but the announcement in the Strategic Defence Review had a deadly sting in its tail for tens of thousands of others.
Alex said: “The good news on the aircraft carriers which will secure jobs on Teesside is extremely welcome and I’m delighted for the hundreds of people who have faced considerable anxiety over recent months when a series of conflicting messages came out from the Government.
“But the good news for Teesside came alongside the extremely bad news that some 42,000 jobs in the army, navy, air force and Ministry of Defence have been axed. Many more will be affected with the cancellation of other defence contracts like the cancellation of the new Nimrod aircraft on which £3billion has already been spent and the reduction in the number of helicopters ordered for Afghanistan.
“I’m amazed that the government is to sack 7,000 soldiers, 5,000 sailors and 5,000 airmen and women from our forces which must have a major impact on our ability as a nation to protect our country and play our full and proper role in an ever more dangerous world.
“Even the Conservative Chairman of the Defence Select Committee, James Arbuthnot MP, told the Commons that the Strategic Defence Review is a gamble with the short term to protect the long term.
“I’m also amazed that we had an announcement that whilst the aircraft carriers will be built, they won’t both have the aircraft and other equipment to enter service. This is a bizarre series of decisions which appear to be taken on purely financial grounds without any real consideration for the defence of our country.”