Sir Mike Penning: Hemel Hempstead MP hits out at military funding gap from Trident replacement
Britain's army will be 'too small' if funding for the Trident renewal comes out of the defence budget - Hemel Hempstead MP Sir Mike Penning has warned.
Sir Mike, who is a former armed forces minister, wants to see the treasury take on the financial burden of replacing Trident, which is Britain's nuclear weapons deterrent.
He has urged close ally Prime Minister Theresa May, and Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond to fund the controversial defence with a new pool of money from the treasury which is kept separate from the Ministry of Defence.
Originally speaking to The Sun newspaper, he said that any Trident replacement would hit the armed forces' budget too hard.
He said: "Someone has to stand up and say, enough is enough. We’re down to the bone now.
“The Army is too small. An army of 82,000 does not give us enough ready troops to deploy. If numbers go down any more, we are simply not going to be able to do what the British public expect of us, from our NATO and UN commitments to humanitarian missions.
“If you continue to develop the replacement Trident from the existing budget, that will dramatically affect the operational capability of the three armed forces - particularly the Army."
The Conservative MP believes the Trident replacement should be treated as a 'national infrastructure project'.
He added: "It should not detract from the day-to-day work of our regular armed forces.
"The projected cost of Â£1billion will make a massive hole in the armed forces budget. And, lets face it, we all know it will probably end up costing a lot more than that.
“We are committed to meeting the NATO target of spending two per cent of GDP on defence, in my mind that does not include spending a large chunk of it on Trident renewal.”