And about turn!
Did Secretary of State for Defence, Gavin Williamson mis-speak (is that the correct tense?) when replying to Rebecca Pow about the fate of 40 Commando in the House two days ago?
Initially his statement was perfectly clear and it was to say that 40 Commando would be staying in Taunton after all.
Now all is a little less clear. A statement issued by the Ministry of Defence earlier today only suggested “We have no plans to move 40 Commando out of the south west and it is our intent that they remain there. The Better Defence Estate strategy is a large-scale programme which will be delivered over 25 years and plans continue to be refined and adapted to best support operational capability.”
Fair enough. But the Defence Review in 2016 suggested moving 40 Commando from Taunton to Plymouth – and both are obviously in the south west. So the initial statement does not help us beyond noting that as plans continue to be refined and adapted then clearly nothing is yet final. And as we noted before 2028 is at least two parliaments away and many things could change.
However when we pressed the MoD on this and whether the Secretary of State had perhaps inadvertently given the wrong impression, a spokesperson for the MoD confirmed “The Defence Secretary misspoke.”
So we really are all back to square one and the best efforts of the MP for Taunton have indeed come to nothing. For now at least.