Future of Royal Marines raised in East Devon election campaign

PUBLISHED: 09:21 01 June 2017 | UPDATED: 09:23 01 June 2017

Lib Dem General Election candidate for East Devon Alison Eden.

Lib Dem General Election candidate for East Devon Alison Eden.

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The Liberal Democrat General Election candidate for East Devon has called on the Conservative candidate to back protests against proposed cuts to the Royal Marines.

Conservative General Election candidate for East Devon Sir Hugo Swire.Conservative General Election candidate for East Devon Sir Hugo Swire.

Lib Dem Alison Eden said she was concerned that Ministry of Defence (MoD) plans would see the Royal Marines lose 200 personnel.

Responding, Conservative Sir Hugo Swire said he had written to the MoD, and been assured no Marines would be made redundant.

Backing a campaign led by former Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown, Ms Eden said: “I hope this is one all-party initiative that Hugo can join. The Royal Marines should not be asked to pay the price for the Royal Navy’s difficulties with recruitment.

“We need every one of our 7,000 Marines because they constitute precisely the sort of force that we need – fast, flexible and mobile - for what is an increasingly unpredictable and dangerous age.

“Surely that was one of the abiding lessons of the Falklands War – in which 42 Commando played such a distinguished role.”

Ms Eden said people could sign a petition at saveroyalmarines.org.

Sir Hugo said: “The Royal Navy is growing, with 400 more personnel, more ships and new submarines. The defence budget is going up each year and is the fifth biggest in the world.

“I have written to the MoD, and I was assured that while a reduction in the Royal Marines headcount of 200 has been identified, these positions will be re-allocated within the Royal Navy with no Royal Marines being made redundant.

“Half of the 200 are administrative or training roles where it has been determined that they are not the best use of highly-trained Royal Marines Commandoes and could be carried out by reservists and civilians. The other 100 positions arise from the restructure developed by 3 Commando Brigade.

“Under this, 42 Commando will become the specialised unit for maritime operations - meaning some of their posts, such as heavy weapon specialists and logistics support staff, are no longer required, and the positions can be re-allocated across the Royal Navy.

“Locally, I am very proud of having CTC Lympstone in my constituency which is also the home to many former Royal Marines.”

Also standing for election are Peter Faithfull (Independent), Brigitte Graham (UKIP), Jan Ross (Labour), Michael Val Davies (Independent), and Claire Wright (Independent).

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