Britain paying £1m a week to transport French troops fighting in Mali while axing our soldiers

Article in Saturday’s Daily Mirror by James Lyons:

The cash-strapped Ministry of Defence revealed the cost as military chiefs prepared for yet another round of swingeing cuts

British taxpayers are forking out £1million a week for a plane to transport French troops fighting in Mali.

The cash-strapped Ministry of Defence revealed the cost as military chiefs prepared for yet another round of swingeing cuts.

The Desert Rats were this week told they will lose their tanks, the Navy has been left without aircraft carriers while tens of thousands of troops are being axed.

Those who survive are having pay, pensions and perks cut.

Meanwhile, we are faced with a £26million bill to keep the C17 transporter in Mali.

Ministers sent it on a three-month deployment in January as the French scrambled to prevent fighters linked to al-Qaeda overrunning the country.

The mission was later extended to six months.

Yesterday Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy said ministers need to set out when and how the deployment will end.

He added: “Securing stability in Mali is important but the country will want to know what it means financially.

“The Government has failed to be clear over objectives. Many will worry that this amounts to handing over a large blank cheque.”

An MoD spokesman said the money was well spent to counter “the rise of Islamic extremism in Northern Mali which poses a threat to our security”.

He went on: “Given the armed forces’ primary duty is to protect this country, it’s absolutely right that they are assisting Malian forces.

“As with any military operation, this carries a cost and we will update Parliament on that in due course.

“But it’s worth remembering that the cost of supporting African action now is likely to be far less than the cost of any action necessary later if these terrorists are allowed to continue unchecked.”

The forces are facing even more pain after PM David Cameron went back on a promise to increase real-terms spending from 2015.

He slapped down calls from Defence Secretary Philip Hammond to cut welfare in a bid to protect his budget.

But Britain has still managed to send armoured cars to Syrian rebels trying to topple dictator Bashar al-Assad.

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