Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy has called on the Defence Secretary to push for a minimum of 82,000 troops for the army, highlighting the importance of the armed forces for Staffordshire.
Speaking during an urgent question on the National Security Capability review, Jeremy said:
“On Saturday, together with my honourable Friend the Member for Lichfield, Michael Fabricant, the honourable Member for Stoke-on-Trent North, Ruth Smeeth, and several other colleagues, I had the honour to be at the laying-up of the colours of 3 Mercian, the Staffords, in Lichfield cathedral.
It was a great privilege to be there and to recognise their service, but at the same time it was a reminder of the difficult decisions that had to be made. I agree with colleagues that 82,000 is an absolute minimum for the Army, and we must go higher—possibly to see the return of 3 Mercian—and certainly not lower.”
The Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson responded positively stating:
“I would very much like to reintroduce the Staffordshire Regiment as part of any changes, and that is something I would like to look at going forward—I may have some more battles to win before I get to that stage.
However, I take on board my honourable Friend’s comments, and I am very conscious of the important role that the armed forces—especially the Royal Signals—play in Stafford, of how they are so involved in the local community and of how important the money we spend on our armed forces is to the economic prosperity of Stafford and Staffordshire.”
Speaking after the exchange, Jeremy said:
“The first role of any Government is to defend its citizens and so it is vital that the overall size of the armed forces is maintained and looks at opportunities for growth. MOD Stafford is one of the most significant army bases in the country and plays an important role in Stafford itself. I am encouraged by the Defence Secretary’s positive statements and recognition of the contribution people from Staffordshire make to the defence of our country.”