Truss carries RAF Marham fight to Prime Minister

The Prime Minister said today that the economic case to keep the tornado jet force in Norfolk would be 'very closely listened to'.

During Prime Minister's questions David Cameron told the Commons that although no final decisions had been made about which RAF bases would remain open a 'good plea' had been made for RAF Marham.

The Prime Minister was responding to a question from South-West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss in which she highlighted the strong West Norfolk's skill base and told him Norfolk had more unemployment and economic deprivation than Moray in Scotland, where RAF Lossiemouth is based.

RAF Marham is fighting for its future against RAF Lossiemouth after it was announced that tornado jets would be scaled back and there would be a single base for the jets in the strategic defence and security review last month.

Scottish first minister Alex Salmond has already written to defence secretary Liam Fox setting out his concerns about the base in Moray, saying the loss would not be absorbed easily within local communities, while other Scottish MPs have warned the loss of RAF Lossiemouth would decimate their local economy.

Earlier this week all nine Norfolk MPs sent a letter to Mr Fox warning that the RAF base was 'indispensable' to the region's economy.

Today in Prime Minister's questions Ms Truss said: 'Would the Prime Minister agree with me that RAF Marham should be retained as a base for the Tornadoes. It makes economic sense as there is a strong skills base in West Norfolk, and West Norfolk also has higher unemployment and deprivation than the alternative base under consideration in Scotland?'

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The Prime Minister replied: 'The Hon lady makes a good plea for her area and is absolutely right to do so. She will know that we are committed to retaining the Tornado, which has been a very effective ground attack aircraft, we haven't made the final decisions about basing but I am sure her remarks will be very closely listened to.'

Speaking after the session Ms Truss said: 'The thing I wanted to do was increase the profile of the fact that unemployment is higher in West Norfolk than in Moray in Scotland.'