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Hammond denies being obstructive over MoD budget talks

Defence secretary Philip Hammond has denied being a “hold-out” by refusing so far to agree to cuts to the MoD budget with the Treasury.

It was reported yesterday that seven departments had signed off a reduction in their budgets for 2015-16 with Chancellor George Osborne – though this still only totalled about 20% of the £11.5bn in additional cuts he is hoping to make in that year.

Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, Hammond – accused by some Tories of being “on manoeuvres” and considering a future leadership bid – said he not being obstructive but rather waiting for the results of a review into departmental efficiency being led by Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander.

He said: “I’m not a hold-out…[The review] will conclude over the next couple of weeks and then I expect to sit down with the chancellor and the chief secretary and have an adult conversation about how we go forward on the basis of that independently chaired review of what we can do.”

Significant cuts to the defence budget beyond efficiency savings, Hammond said, would harm military capability – which Osborne has said he would not countenance.

Hammond said: “If we need to go beyond what are efficiency savings, then of course we would have a discussion across Government about how and where we would take out additional capability.”

Osborne will announce his 2015-16 spending plans to Parliament on June 26.

(Image of Philip Hammond: AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

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