MP calls for de­bate on fu­ture of Red Ar­rows af­ter BAE blow

Yorkshire Post - - NEWS -

CALLS TO de­bate the Red Ar­rows’ fu­ture amid long-term con­cerns about the dis­play team have been backed by Com­mons Leader An­drea Lead­som.

For­mer Labour Min­is­ter Diana John­son pressed the Govern­ment to of­fer as­sur­ances about the Lin­colnshire-based Royal Air Force aer­o­batic team af­ter BAE Sys­tems an­nounced plans to cut al­most 2,000 jobs.

The Op­po­si­tion pre­vi­ously called for the Govern­ment to con­sider bring­ing for­ward or­ders, in­clud­ing re­plac­ing the Red Ar­rows’ fleet of Hawk air­craft, in a bid to pro­vide ad­di­tional work for BAE.

Ms Lead­som said the team does a “bril­liant job” and she “would ab­so­lutely sup­port” Ms John­son in seek­ing a par­lia­men­tary de­bate, sug­gest­ing this could emerge via the Back­bench Busi­ness Com­mit­tee.

Speak­ing in the Com­mons, Ms John­son (Kingston upon Hull North) told Ms Lead­som: “Could we please have a de­bate on the fu­ture of the Red Ar­rows?

“For decades, the Red Ar­rows dis­play team has show­cased the best of Bri­tish aero­nau­ti­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing around the world. The Hawk Train­ers used by the Red Ar­rows and built at Brough, just out­side Hull, have been due to go out of ser­vice in 2020 as the (then) Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron said in 2014 and as the (for­mer) lead pi­lot, Squadron leader Jim Turner, said that the jets would need to be re­placed in 2018.

“The cur­rent De­fence Sec­re­tary (Sir Michael Fal­lon) said in 2016 that we will even­tu­ally have to re­place them and start to think about that in the next year or two.

“So I think this is timely, in light of the an­nounce­ment from BAE Sys­tems this week, that we have this dis­cus­sion about the fu­ture of the Red Ar­rows.”

Ms Lead­som replied: “I think, like many mem­bers, we’d all pay trib­ute to the ex­cel­lent dis­plays put on by the Red Ar­rows – not least of which at the Bri­tish Grand Prix in my con­stituency at Sil­ver­stone Cir­cuit where they fly over­head ev­ery year, and I can ac­tu­ally see them from my gar­den.

“I think it’s a fan­tas­tic sight and they do a bril­liant job, so I would ab­so­lutely sup­port the hon­ourable lady and I’m sure she could speak to (Back­bench Busi­ness Com­mit­tee chair­man Ian Mearns).

“I’m sure they’d be plenty of in­ter­est in such a de­bate.”

The Red Ar­rows, of­fi­cially known as the Royal Air Force Aer­o­batic Team, was formed in late 1964 as an all-RAF team, re­plac­ing a num­ber of un­of­fi­cial teams that had been spon­sored by RAF com­mands.

The badge of the Red Ar­rows shows the air­craft in their trade­mark di­a­mond nine for­ma­tion, with the motto Éclat, mean­ing “bril­liance”.

DIANA JOHN­SON: Called for a par­lia­men­tary de­bate on the fu­ture of the Red Ar­rows.

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