Below is a press release issued by the Conservative Party on 16 January 2002.
Shadow Defence Secretary, Bernard Jenkin, says that Tony Blair’s ‘global ambitions’ are taking an unsustainable toll on Britain’s armed forces. Mr Jenkin said that while the number of trained servicemen and women had fallen by nearly 10,000 since Labour came to power, the Army was now taking part in more, not less, deployments.
Mr Jenkin used the example of 2 Paras, based in his own Essex North constituency: “They spent Christmas 2000 in Northern Ireland before being sent to Macedonia. They spent this Christmas in Afghanistan.” He told the BBC: “If Britain is going to use British troops for a nation-building programme, then you have to up the ante. It is either the Prime Minister’s global ambitions or the Treasury, but you can’t go on indefinitely overstretching the armed forces in this way.”
Mr Jenkin said that it was too early for the Conservatives to say how defence would be operating under a Conservative Government. He told conservatives.com that the real question was whether you carried on with this much wider peace-keeping deployments, or focus on specific threats.