RAF Marham’s future is discussed by MPs

Defence Secretary Liam Fox today reiterated to Scottish MPs that 'no decision' has been made over the future of RAF Marham and other RAF bases across the country.

Norfolk's last flying RAF base is under threat from plans to reduce the size of the force's Tornado fleet and locate it at a single airfield, possibly in Scotland.

Make it Marham campaigners have repeatedly called for an end to the uncertainty over the future of RAF Marham.

But Mr Fox told Westminster's Scottish Affairs Committee: 'We are working towards trying to make an announcement before the start of the summer recess [July 19] and we are trying to stick to that.

'When we do make this decision it will be what is best for the defence of the UK.'

He continued: 'No decision has been made yet. We are continuing to discuss with interested parties.'

Saying the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) was as difficult as a '3D jigsaw' would be 'understating the complexity of the problem that we face', he added.

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The Defence Secretary was also repeatedly questioned on the future of Scottish bases should Scotland achieve complete devolution to become 'a foreign nation'. But he refused to comment on the 'hypothetical' consequences of independece.

He added that the MoD had not formally considered the possibility of moving assets and bases south of the border.

'We do not view the UK as a collection of states,' Fox said. 'This is a unitary United Kingdom. We look to defence across the whole of the UK.

'I hope that [independence] is not something we ever have to consider. I don't believe the people of Scotland with their very proud history would like to see that.'

This latest announcement comes after campaigners battling to save RAF Marham urged thousands of people to flock to the heart of King's Lynn this month to show their support for the base.

Make it Marham campaigners want people from across the county to pack the town on Wednesday, June 22, for a parade by Marham's servicemen and women.

It is hoped a strong show of support will send another powerful message to the Government from Norfolk to 'Make it Marham' and not move the base's Tornados to Lossiemouth.

Men and women from RAF Marham will exercise their freedom of the borough right on June 22 and will march from Common Staithe Quay to form up on the Tuesday Market Place at 11.40am.

A civic procession led by the mayor's staff-bearer, sword-bearer and mace-bearers will arrive just before noon, when there will be a flypast of aircraft from Marham.

The newly-appointed borough mayor of Lynn and West Norfolk, Colin Sampson, will take the salute and inspect the parade before addressing those assembled on Tuesday Market Place.

The band of RAF College Cranwell will play during the event.

The fight to save RAF Marham united MPs, councils, businesses and communities across the county, under the Make it Marham banner in November last year.

The campaign, supported by the EDP, peaked two weeks later as a delegation travelled to 10 Downing Street to deliver a petition with nearly 37,000 signatures.

Since then, Make it Marham campaigners demanded the government keep the base open after the 'vital role' Tornados from the base played in early attacks on Colonel Gaddafi's forces in Libya.

A spokesman at the MoD has said the announcement could be made at any time between now and July, when parliament rises for its summer recess.

Broadland MP Keith Simpson has said he expects an announcement by the last day of the Commons summer term, July 19.

He believes the only thing that could delay it beyond then would be a complication in withdrawing troops from Germany.

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