CUTTING the number of Royal Marines would be “inconsistent” with the government’s record on defence and security, a former defence minister has said.

Dr Andrew Murrison made the claim during Prime Minister’s Questions, on February 7, after reports that up to 1,000 marines could lose their jobs in the National Security Capability Review.

The South West Wiltshire MP said: “The Royal Marines are the most adaptable of our elite infantry, they are central to our amphibious capability and they provide much of our special forces.

“Does the prime minister agree with me that reducing them further at this stage would be inconsistent with this government’s strong record on defence and security?”

Prime Minister Theresa May told MPs that suggestions about cuts were “purely speculative”.

In response, Mrs May said: “The Royal Marines do indeed play a vital role in defending our country and I pay tribute to them for all that they do.

“Protecting the UK is of course our priority, and as he will know we have in place now a review, a modernising defence programme, which is about ensuring that the defence capabilities we have meet the rapidly changing and evolving threats that we face.

“I think that’s the right thing for us to do, but of course any comments that have been made, any suggestions that have been made about cuts to defence, are purely speculative.”

She added: “We are committed to increasing our spending on defence.”