SOUTH Dorset MP and former Coldstream Guards officer Richard Drax, inset, has criticised the government’s latest round of defence cuts.

A third round of cuts, announced yesterday, will see 5,300 soldiers lose their jobs and the British Army reduced to 82,000 personnel – its lowest level since the 1700s.

Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond blamed the cuts on “the defence deficit this Government inherited and the consequent scale of downsizing required in the army”.

However, many critics argue downsizing the armed forces while the UK still faces real or potential threats around the globe is a huge error.

Mr Drax, pictured, told the Daily Echo: “My view is that the defence of our country should be our top priority.

“We live in increasingly unstable times, as this latest outrage in Algeria has proved.

“The Prime Minister has not ruled out putting boots on the ground in North Africa and our generals and other senior officers are saying we are stretched to the limit.

“The armed services will always do what they are told, that is what is so wonderful about our armed services.

“But if they give us this loyalty, we owe them a loyalty and duty to ensure they have the right kit and the right amount of manpower.”