Cost of Libya mission rises to £300m

Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson. Pictute: LPhot Ioan Roberts

Defence secretary refuses Treasury demands for military cuts

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BRITAIN’S military operations in Libya will cost the taxpayer an estimated £300 million, defence secretary Liam Fox said.

In a Commons statement, Dr Fox said the cost of operations – from the start of the missions in March to the middle of December – was estimated at £160 million.

The Ministry of Defence had previously put the cost to the middle of September at £120 million. In addition, the MoD faces a bill of £140 million to replace the ammunition used.

All costs will be met from Treasury reserves and will not affect the MoD’s core budget, the defence secretary said.

The figures were released as Dr Fox vowed to ‘carry on doing the job I’m meant to do,’ amid a series of allegations that he has broken ministerial rules over a working relationship with his close friend and defence industry businessman Adam Werritty.

Dr Fox has been under pressure over the past week following revelations about his friendship with lobbyist Mr Werritty, who was present on 18 overseas trips and met the defence secretary at the MoD 22 times since the coalition government was formed 16 months ago.

At PMQs yesterday, David Cameron told MPs: ‘It is for the prime minister to decide whether someone keeps their job or not.

‘In the case of the defence secretary, I think it is very important when the leader of the opposition has called for an inquiry and I have established an inquiry, to let us allow the cabinet secretary to do his work.’

A press conference Dr Fox was due to hold with his French counterpart in Paris yesterday was cancelled. His appearance at a keel-laying ceremony in Barrow today was also pulled for ‘logisitcal reasons,’ a spokesman said.