ALMOST 10,000 people have signed a petition calling on the Government to reverse its controversial decision to axe the 2ndBattalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (2RRF), launched by the Manchester Evening News.
And on Thursday – just hours before Parliament was due to debate the decision – Stalybridge and Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds joined veteran Fusilier Dennis Laverick, MEN reporter Paul Britton, Shadow Secretary of State for International Development Ivan Lewis and Conservative MP John Baron to hand the petition over to Downing Street.
Mr Reynolds – who was among the first to have signed the MEN petition – believes it would be wrong to disband the battalion, which has one of the strongest recruitment records in the country.
And after visiting Downing Street on Thursday, he joined veteran Fusiliers, who had travelled to London to listen to the MPs’ debate.
“The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers is highly respected across our region, from which it draws a significant number of recruits,” said Mr Reynolds, who is Secretary of the All Party Armed Forces Group and a member of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme.
“The Manchester Evening News’ petition is a clear indication of the connection our region has to the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.
“With almost 10,000 signatures, it is a reflection of the growing sense that the decision to axe this battalion is unfair and unjustified. And I hope the Government will take notice and review this highly questionable decision.
“Any decision made about the military should be made in the best interests of the military. However there is clear evidence that the decision to axe this battalion has been made for political reasons –which would be shameful.”
In July the Government announced plans to cut 20,000 troops from the Army. The 2nd Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers is one of 17 units earmarked to be axed by 2020.
Initially the Government indicated that the selection of particular battalions to be disbanded by 2020 reflected changing demographics. But the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers has since been shown to have one of the strongest recruitment records in the country – throwing doubt on the decision-making process.
Just days after the Government’s announcement the Manchester Evening News launched its petition, which called on the Government to ‘save the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, in recognition of its proud history and the heroism of its servicemen’.
It is understood to have been signed by around 10,000 MEN readers, from across the Greater Manchester region.