Chancellor George Osborne says the defence budget left by Labour failed to reflect the nature of Britain's military commitments.
Two days after Defence Secretary Liam Fox's leaked letter to prime minister David Cameron, Chancellor George Osborne says the defence budget left by Labour did not reflect the nature of Britain's military commitments."
Britain's defence budget has been left in a "chaotic" state by the previous Labour government, with the British armed forces tied into contracts to buy weapons and equipment that are only suitable for the Cold War, according to the Chancellor, George Osborne.
Interviewed in today's Daily Telegraph, Mr Osborne says: "We are going to have a bunch of kit that makes us extremely well prepared to fight the Russians on the north German plain. That’s not a war we are likely to face."
He is highly critical of the condition of the defence budget when the coalition came into power. "Frankly, of all the budgets I have seen, the defence budget was the one that was the most chaotic, the most disorganised, the most overcommitted."
Of all the budgets I have seen, the defence budget was the one that was the most chaotic. Chancellor George Osborne
But the chancellor is at pains to stress his support for the military., claiming he has made "a personal effort to try and understand the pressures our services are under".
The interview's publication comes two days after the leak of a letter to the prime minister by the Defence Secretary, Liam Fox, in which he warns of "grave consequences" over "draconian" spending cuts to Britain's military budget.
This is 'defence of the realm' politics
Politically the stakes could not be much higher - and I don't just mean real-time, coalition politics. For this is Defence of the Realm. This is what the Tories stand for in many Tory (and not-so-Tory) minds, writes Alex Thomson.
Yet in the maelstrom of the coming spending review, defence is right up there for cutting, and the party is embroiled in easily the most furious political row.
In one corner, Chancellor George Osborne, who will tell anybody who will listen how we are kitted out to fight the Red Menace on Luneberg Heath or somesuch. It's chaotic, it's out of date, and it's the worst managed budget in Whitehall.
In the other Liam Fox, fighting like a regimental bulldog to defend his department almost across the board, already "furious" because of an alarmingly worded email leaked to the Telegraph just this week which described proposed cuts in apocalyptic terms.
Oddly, Fox is in a reasonably well-supported position. The Lib Dems support the current carrier programme linked to jobs from Devon to Rosyth - and probably more expensive to cancel now than commission.
And the Trident issue turns out to be the issue that never was in terms of keeping it - though hot debate on three or four subs for the American missile system (it's not independent in any meaningful sense).
So perhaps that's what has so emboldened Liam Fox, who has hinted he will go rather than see some of the proposed cuts go through.
Over at the Treasury do they not like it. And naturally the Chancellor is the mouthpiece for all this, hence today's rhetoric.
The leak exposed a rift at the top of government between the Treasury and the Ministry of Defence, and prompted the Prime Minister, David Cameron, to reject the suggestion that the forthcoming defence review would make "bad decisions".
Mr Cameron told ITV: "As the prime minister, I can absolutely guarantee you we will have well-funded, strong armed forces to defence our country."
As part of the government's overall spending review, the Ministry of Defence has been asked to make savings of up to 20 per cent, though the real figure will be higher because of a £37bn deficit in the MoD budget.