Navy cuts would hinder us in Falklands, says Portsmouth MP

ANGER Protesters burn a British flag outside the British embassy in Buenos Aires to protest against David Cameron's comments earlier this month about Argentina acting like a colonial power over the Falkland Islands

ANGER Protesters burn a British flag outside the British embassy in Buenos Aires to protest against David Cameron's comments earlier this month about Argentina acting like a colonial power over the Falkland Islands

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PORTSMOUTH North MP Penny Mordaunt has warned the government it can’t rely on America’s help if Argentina started a new war over the Falkland Islands.

As tensions build ahead of the 30th anniversary of the Falklands conflict, Ms Mordaunt took to the floor of the House of Commons to warn that the government’s decision to axe HMS Ark Royal and the Harrier jump jet fleet has weakened the chance of Britain repeating its 1982 reclamation of the Islands.

Defence cuts mean Royal Navy ships are increasingly sailing with carriers from the US, French and Italian navies in hostile areas such as Libya and the Middle East.

This was the case last Sunday when HMS Argyll sailed through the Strait of Hormuz with the US carrier USS Abraham Lincoln.

Pointing out America’s neutral stance on the Falklands dispute, Ms Mordaunt said Britain should not expect the same level of protection in the South Atlantic.

She told MPs: ‘When we say we do not need carrier strike until the next decade, what we are actually saying is we need someone else’s.

‘If it were to come to it, one supposes requests for a carrier would fall on deaf ears.’

Without a Royal Navy carrier, it’s feared the Argentine military would have the edge over Britain in battles 300 miles from its shores.

Edward Leigh, who is MP for Gainsborough, told yesterday’s defence debate: ‘If there was to be a war with Iran or Argentina we would not be fighting it in the Channel. We would be fighting it, in the case of Argentina, thousands of miles away from our air defence systems.’

Defence minister Gerald Howarth sought to play down the MPs’ fears.

He said: ‘There is neither the capability or intention of Argentina to repeat the folly of 1982 and the military deterrent we have in place is up to the task.’

He added: ‘Ministers are very seized of this issue.’

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