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Ministry of Defence denies any plans to shut down RAF Marham

PUBLISHED: 07:45 15 October 2018 | UPDATED: 11:59 15 October 2018

Gavin Williamson outside the Ministry of Defence after he was named as the new Secretary of State for Defence

Gavin Williamson outside the Ministry of Defence after he was named as the new Secretary of State for Defence

PA Wire/PA Images

The Ministry of Defence has denied any plans to close down RAF Marham after an alleged spat between two Cabinet ministers.

Liz Truss. Photo: PALiz Truss. Photo: PA

The Daily Mail reported that defence secretary Gavin Williamson threatened to close RAF Marham after a row with Norfolk MP Liz Truss.

The argument, over defence cuts made by Ms Truss in her role as chief secretary to the Treasury, was reported to have been going on for months.

And Mr Williamson is said to have told Ms Truss TV cameras would be banned at the base when she visited and that he could close down the UK home of the F-35 Lightening jets all together.

One Ministry of Defence official told the Mail: “He (Mr Williamson) said “let’s give her some of her own medicine and move the F-35s or shut Marham so she can feel the pain of defence cuts for herself”. He said the soldiers’ pay rise was paltry and she should be named and shamed for it in a letter to every soldier.”

Ms Truss declined to comment but previously publicly attacked male Cabinet ministers’ “macho” antics.

A spokesman for Mr Williamson said: “We have invested £250m upgrading RAF Marham to ensure it remains the home base for the F-35 Lightning force for decades to come. There are no plans to shut it down.

“We are delighted the Treasury awarded service personnel a 2.9pc pay rise which has made a significant difference.”

Uncertainty was last cast over Marham’s future in 2010, when it was announced that the stealth fighter the Tornado GR4 would be retired, and it had not been confirmed where its replacement would be based.

There were not only more than 5,000 jobs at stake but the base brings tens of millions of pounds to our region’s economy.

So this newspaper, MPs - including Ms Truss - and local politicians launched a campaign to make it Marham.

Almost 37,000 people from Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire signed a petition launched in November 2010.

A delegation delivered it to 10 Downing Street, as MPs and council leaders put the case to save Marham to then Defence secretary Liam Fox.

In March 2013, the then defence secretary Philip Hammond flew to Norfolk to announce the station was saved.

Five years later, the first F-35s have touched down at the home of the new Lightning Force.

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