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Commitment to 40 Commando

It was all a bit unexpected. Right out of the blue.  But surely these things are well rehearsed? Rebecca Pow MP for Taunton has been (wo)manfully arguing against the closure of 40 Commando’s base in Taunton. A move that would sever decades of association between the Commandos and the town.

An announcement back in 2016 suggested that the Norton Manor Camp just outside Taunton would close by 2028 with the Commandos moving to a new base in the vicinity of Plymouth. That was a result of a large and expensive review of the armed forces carried out for the Ministry of Defence. It sounded like a done deal.

So when yesterday Rebecca Pow rose to ask a question of the Secretary of Defence it seemed a little odd that it was even necessary to ask. In a discussion on Britain’s amphibious forces the MP for Taunton rose to ask “Could the Secretary of State fully understand and comprehend the importance of 40 Commando to my town of Taunton in his assessment of future capabilities

To which the Secretary of State, Gavin Williamson, responded “Well I’d like to thank my Honourable Friend for all she did in raising her concerns….but in terms of 40 Commando in Taunton, I can absolutely reassure her that there are no plans to move 40 Commando from Taunton and they will be there for a long time into the future.

Is this a change of government policy? Has there been a review of the Ministry of Defence Review? There has been no official paper released by the Ministry of Defence on this. And of course a long time into the future might still be covered by the original review. After all the base was not scheduled to close until 2028 which is “a long time into the future” in political terms at least (i.e it is two new governments away). What else in the Defence Review may also now be reversed?

For now residents of Somerset may prefer to take Mr Williamson literally and assume that the future of 40 Commando in their traditional base at Taunton is secure.

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