Britain 'hasn't the money to defend itself'
Published 23/07/2010 | 05:00
Britain cannot afford to protect itself against all potential threats to its security, Liam Fox, the British defence secretary, has warned.
Mr Fox said the dire state of the public finances meant the British Armed Forces could no longer be equipped to cover every conceivable danger.
Since the Second World War, Britain has maintained a force that can conduct all-out warfare, counter-insurgencies such as in Afghanistan or medium scale campaigns like the Falklands or Sierra Leone.
But Mr Fox has given the strongest signal yet that it will have to give up one or more of these capabilities, which have been maintained at the same time as contributing to collective security pacts such as NATO.
"We don't have the money as a country to protect ourselves against every potential threat," he said. "We just don't have it."
The military had to be configured only for "realistic potential future threats", he said, hinting at a substantial cut to forces such as tanks and aircraft.
"We have to look at where we think the real risks will come from, where the real threats will come from and we need to deal with that," he added.
Mr Fox's frank admission also casts doubt on the future of the 25,000 troops currently stationed in Germany. The defence secretary has previously said that he hoped to withdraw them at some point, leaving Britain without a presence in the country for the first time since 1945. (© Daily Telegraph, London)