In response to the letter in the Times from ex-Navy commanders condemning the Government’s decision to scrap the Harrier fleet of jets and HMS Ark Royal as “perverse”, Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy said:
“The Government hasn’t been able to convince the country, nor our most senior ex-Navy commanders, that we are certain that Britain will not need Harriers on our carriers over the next decade.
“Nick Harvey did not address the main questions this morning. How much extra is the cost of retaining Tornado over Harrier? Will the Government publish the advice that led them to make this decision? Can the Government guarantee that Britain’s strategic interest around the world will not be harmed by their decision?
“Our country's friends have passed polite comment and our own military experts are deeply concerned. It is bewildering for a maritime nation to build two new aircraft carriers yet leave them devoid of Carrier strike capability for a decade.”