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Osborne insists Britain 'remains hugely influential'

George Osborne insisted Britain remains "hugely influential in the world" after former Nato commander General Sir Richard Shirreff said the Prime Minister has become "a diplomatic irrelevance" over the Ukraine crisis.

Osborne was pressed repeatedly on BBC1's Andrew Marr Show over whether the Ministry of Defence's share of the cuts would mean falling below the commitment of at least 2% of national wealth going to the military

George Osborne on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show. Credit: BBC/The Andrew Marr Show

"We are currently hitting that target. I am not going to pre-judge our defence review. But people know that we care about our nation's security and defence because we have invested in the latest equipment," Osborne said.

"People know we have met the 2% commitment and are meeting it today."


1,500 military jobs to be axed

More than 1,500 military personnel will lose their jobs in the final round of armed forces redundancies, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has confirmed.

Redundancies will include up to 1,425 members of the Army, up to 70 medical and dental officers from the RAF and up to 10 from the Royal Navy, Hammond told MPs in a Commons statement.

The fourth tranche of redundancies is part of an armed forces re-structuring programme which will see the regular Army cut from 102,000 to 82,000 by 2020, while the newly-renamed Army Reserve - formerly the Territorial Army - is being expanded from 19,000 to 30,000.

Prince William to join crowds at British Military show

Audiences including the Duke of Cambridge will be treated to spectacular stunt displays this weekend at the annual British Military Tournament at London's Earl's Court.

Final rehearsals have been performed for the event, which raises money for three military charities, and this year celebrates heroes from British military history.

Practice made perfect for the White Helmets Motorcycle Display Team ahead of this weekend's tournament. Credit: Richard Gray/EMPICS Entertainment
Audiences will be treated to plenty of fireworks as the riders go back to front. Credit: Richard Gray/EMPICS Entertainment
The King's Troop Royal House Artillery were put through their paces inside Earl's Court. Credit: Richard Gray/EMPICS Entertainment
Teams from Powerful and Terrible put their back into rehearsals for the command field gun competition. Credit: Richard Gray/EMPICS Entertainment


Prime Minister shows support for Poppy Appeal

Prime Minister David Cameron has shown his support for this year's Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal by posing outside Downing Street this morning with the Poppy Girls.

David Cameron poses with The Poppy Girls outside 10 Downing Street, ahead of the Royal British Legion's 2013 Poppy Appeal. Credit: PA

The five-strong singing group, aged between 10 and 17, are the daughters of five men serving in the Armed Forces and have released a fundraising single for the Royal British Legion's appeal.

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Poppy appeal: interesting facts

  • The use of the poppy was inspired by the World War I poem "In Flanders Fields" by Lt Col John McCrae. Its opening lines refer to the many poppies that were the first flowers to grow on soldiers' graves
  • In 1918, American Christian worker Moina Michael, inspired by the poem, published "We Shall Keep the Faith". She vowed to always wear a poppy and began distributing them at conferences
  • Until 1996, poppies were made by disabled veterans in Canada, but have since been made by a private contractor
  • A team of about 50 people - most of them disabled former British military personnel - work all year making millions of poppies at the Poppy Factory in Richmond
  • To commemorate animal victims of war, Animal Aid has issued a purple poppy, which can be worn alongside the traditional red one
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