If there is one thing of which this Government appears unafraid, it is changing its mind. The recent U-turn by the Chancellor over plans announced in the Budget to cap tax relief for charitable donations was said to have been the 34th U-turn in the Coalition’s tenure.
And now within a matter of days we have another – and it is welcome news for this area.
We understand that the Government is to reverse its earlier plan to mothball one of the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers before she ever had a chance to sail on her maiden deployment.
Whitehall sources indicate that instead, both HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales will enter operational service in Portsmouth later this decade – as was originally planned by the previous Government.
‘Planning assumptions are that both carriers will now enter service,’ we are told by a well-placed source.
And that change of mind is good news indeed.
How ridiculous it would have been to spend billions of pounds on the two new ships, only to not use one of them.
It would have been about as sensible as buying two cars because you felt you needed extra transport in your family, but then keeping one locked in the garage while sharing the other.
Crucially, having both carriers operational will give year-round capability. Even when one ship is in refit or undergoing repairs, the other will be available for whatever eventuality the fates throw at us.
We have long argued that the Government needs to invest sufficient quantities of citizens’ hard-earned tax payments in keeping the Royal Navy strong.
We have voiced concern before that this has not always been the case. But here we see a pragmatic and sensible decision to reverse a plan that smacked of foolishness and no little risk.
We welcome the day when these two mighty ships grace Portsmouth Harbour and represent our interests around the world.
All that we do not want is another U-turn on the carriers by a Government prone to change its mind.