More likely to go are two amphibious assault ships, along with new support ships required to back up carriers on extended deployments, harming “global Britain” ambitions. Others ships may be retired early.
A smaller fleet would harm Portsmouth, the Navy’s home. Local Labour MP Stephen Morgan warns of the fight this would cause. “The review is meant to solidify Britain’s place in the world, instead it seems government is using it to allow an unelected adviser with no military expertise to hack bits off services essential to keeping us safe.”
Britain’s aviation capability also faces a mixed future. There are no major procurement projects under way, with the next big one the Tempest future fighter currently under development. Tempest could be a model for Cummings. Not expected to enter service until 2035, industry is working with government to decide exactly what the aircraft needs to do. Possibilities include unmanned versions, and adapting existing commercial technology, which could appeal to Cummings.
Pulling back on existing projects seems unlikely, but future ones are where the political adviser could make a real difference, according to Malcolm Chalmers, deputy director of the defence think tank RUSI. Despite Covid, he thinks the Government will keep to its manifesto promise of increasing the defence budget by 0.5pc every year.