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The Government is axing 20,000 regular troops and hopes to recruit 30,000 weekend warriors to take their place.

 

David Cameron faces a Tory mutiny over his defence cuts today.

Rebel Conservative MPs will try to stop him slashing the Army and replacing full time soldiers with reservists.

The Government is axing 20,000 regular troops and hopes to recruit 30,000 weekend warriors to take their place.

Conservative backbenchers led by John Baron say the plan is fatally flawed and want a Commons vote.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond yesterday told the rebels that they could do “serious damage” to the armed forces.

Mr Hammond wrote to fellow Tories saying: “I hope colleagues will support the Government in resisting John’s amendment.

“To do otherwise will not only give a significant fillip to the Labour Party but more significantly would risk serious damage to our future armed forces.”

Downing Street said that David Cameron fully agreed with him.

But Mr Baron insisted: “Rising costs and badly missed reserve recruitment targets confirm the Reserve plans are in trouble, and raise the real prospect of unacceptable capability gaps and false economies.

“We ought to revert to the original plan in 2011 to maintain the Regulars until the Reservists are ready to take their place.”

He added: “I am not calling upon the Government to reverse course, but to recognise its plans as currently realised are flawed.”

Shadow Defence Secretary Vernon Coaker said that “the Government’s defence reforms are a mess, and David Cameron and his Defence Secretary have nobody to blame but themselves”.

“Labour is worried about pressing ahead with a reduction to the number in the regular Army without an adequate uplift in the number of reserves,” he added.

“There are serious concerns about the Government’s failure to publish detailed reserve recruitment figures – despite Ministers promising they would– because we have no way of knowing whether the Government is on course to meet its own targets.

“We are not calling for the reforms to be reversed. We are not saying the reforms should be shelved.

“But we need to see evidence they progressing as planned and promised. The Defence Secretary now needs to take some responsibility and show us that they are.”

See on www.mirror.co.uk

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