Last ditch attempt to save Birmingham’s army regiment blocked despite rebellion.
A last-ditch attempt to save Birmingham’s army regiment failed last night, despite a rebellion by some Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs.
John Hemming (Lib Dem Yardley) was among MPs on the Government benches to rebel against the plans in a House of Commons vote.
But the Commons approved legislation allowing the Government expand the number of Army reserves to 30,000 while reducing the regular force by 20,000 by 2020 – which is almost certain to mean the end of the Second Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.
The Fusiliers recruits in the West Midlands and was formed from a merger of the Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers with regiments from London, Northumberland and Lancashire.
And former soldiers, along with MPs including Mr Hemming, have been campaigning to urge the Government to think again over proposals to axe it.
They warn that plans to use the Territorial Army to fill the gap left by disbanding the regiment simply don’t make sense – because there aren’t enough TA personnel.
Mr Hemming backed a rebel amendment to the Defence Reform Bill proposed by a Conservative backbencher and also supported by Labour, which called for the Government’s proposals to be re-examined.
Officially, the amendment would not have saved the Fusiliers but simply delayed the expansion of the reservists. In practice, it was seen as a method of stalling the changes.
But it was defeated, allowing Ministers to press ahead with the plans. Defence Secretary Philip Hammond accepted an amendment requiring annual reports on recruitment and retention to the Reserves.
Mr Hemming said: “There is no sense firing full timers if we haven’t got the reservists to replace, and we also need to protect the Fusiliers.”
Campaigners argue The Second Battalion, The Royal regiment of Fusiliers, known as 2RRF, should continue because it is one of the best recruited infantry regiments in the British Army and doesn’t suffer the manpower shortages of some other battalions.
The Mail has backed the campaign, which saw a delegation march on Downing Street.
See on www.birminghammail.co.uk