Libya mission may cost UK £260m - defence secretary


Liam Fox: "We place a higher value on human life than the Gaddafi regime does"

UK military operations in Libya could cost about £260m over six months, the defence secretary has said.

In a written statement to MPs, Liam Fox said that if the Nato-led mission lasted that long, costs would be "in the region of £120m".

He added that up to £140m would also be spent replacing munitions.

The UK has been contributing to the operation to enforce a no-fly zone since 19 March. Overall costs will be met by Treasury reserves.

Earlier, Dr Fox said avoiding civilian casualties drove up costs but the spending showed the UK held the "higher moral ground".

When military strikes against Col Muammar Gaddafi's forces began, Chancellor George Osborne estimated that the cost of British involvement would be "in the order of tens of millions of pounds, not hundreds of millions".

But last week, Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander said the cost could run into "hundreds of millions" of pounds.

Valuing human life

Ahead of his announcement, Dr Fox people would "have to take into account that we have used more expensive precision weaponry so that we minimise civilian casualties in Libya.

"And if we are going to fight operations in the future based on minimising civilian casualties, there is clearly a financial price to pay."

He added: "I think that shows that we are on the moral high ground and that we place a higher value on human life than the Gaddafi regime."

Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy said Nato allies had to do more to reduce the British contribution.

'Fragile' morale

He said: "Many people at home will be thinking 'Why is it always Britain that has to do this?' and I think it is important that Britain does contribute, but I think we want to see some more of our Nato allies, particularly the European Nato allies, do more of the campaign [and] more of the fighting."

In a later statement, Mr Murphy added: "We want the government to be clearer on what stresses and strains operations in Libya are making on the core defence budget, and whether our standing commitments are, or will be, affected by the ongoing conflict."

Pressed by shadow chancellor Ed Balls about the issue of costs during Treasury questions in the Commons on Tuesday, Mr Osborne said the cost was being met by the Treasury special reserve and was "very much lower than the ongoing operation in Afghanistan".

Earlier this week Air Chief Marshal Sir Simon Bryant, the RAF's second-in-command, said morale among RAF personnel was "fragile" and their fighting spirit was being threatened by being over-worked because of operations in Libya.

But Prime Minister David Cameron said on Tuesday that military leaders were "absolutely clear" the mission could be kept going for as long as necessary.


More on This Story

Libya after Gaddafi


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  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    Spend 260 million on UK-related needs not on fighting Col Muammar Gaddafi. Libya not our issue. UK is broke.

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    A remarkably naive view. This is not about protecting people, it's about oil. If the UK wanted to protect the downtrodden masses we'd be waging war on several other African and Arab countries, as well as Indonesia and China.
    We have also not done a great job at protecting the Afghan people despite ten years in the country. I've served there, as well as Iraq and the Balkans.

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    I fail to see what events in Libya have to do with the UK. However if we are going to spend £1/4billion it should have been used to provide better equipment and resources for the troops this Government have already committed to Afghanistan.
    However smarmy Dave presumably wants to have his own war. As for the 90 days and out suggestion, even the politicians can't believe this one ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    Apart from France and the USA,why aren't more NATO countries doing more?Why is it always the UK and USA carrying the brunt of these campaigns?There was unanimous agreement at the UN so where are the rest of them?Seems to me we get the raw end of the deal as usual.

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    We have such short memories. Although this is going to cost us financially, the reason we are operating over Libya was to stop a massacre that would have been on a par with Srebotnica. So far, the coalition has managed to prevent this. Why are we so cynical we can only focus on negatives rather than positives.


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