The following text is an extract of the regular Downing Street lobby briefing.
PM – Lobby briefing – 1 February 2012:
On India’s decision to select a French fighter aircraft over the Eurofighter, the spokesman said, ” We are looking at this issue. Clearly, clearly it is not a done deal. The contract has not been awarded yet but it is not good news that the French have been named the preferred bidder.”
He said the High Commission in India had been asked to give an assessment.
It was put to him that the Unite union had said the defence white paper today was a ‘stunning betrayal of British manufacturing’ because it calls for a ‘off-the-shelf’ procurement policy. This would lead to the loss of thousands of jobs, they said.
The spokesman replied that procurement had been a problem in the past. There was a ‘huge hole’ in the defence budget. “The priority is to get the best deal for the armed forces. That is why we have gone the way we have – buying off-the-shelf rather than some sort of bespoke solution. Also, we have a very competitive defence industry in this country.”
So the union is right then, he was asked.
He replied: ” There is a big black hole in the defence budget. We are seeking to fix that.”
Thanks to Gallery news.