CUTS to the UK’s maritime surveillance capability, which targets drug traffickers and arms smugglers, have been described as “mad” by an MP.

Christchurch MP Chris Chope has hit out at the government after it terminated a £4million contract with Hurn-based Cobham, which comes despite a £2billion injection into defence spending following the Paris terror attacks.

The aviation firm’s agreement, which sees its team of experts and sophisticated surveillance technology feed crucial information to the Border Force, will end on January 6.

On Monday night Mr Chope asked Home Secretary Theresa May to reverse that decision, but was told the country “has the capability we need”.

Speaking to the Daily Echo yesterday, Mr Chope said that this answer was “inadequate”.

“On the face of it – it seems mad,” he said. “How are we going to protect our territorial waters?

“The concern is that the capability is going to be significantly reduced and the expertise – all of that experience – will be lost.”

Mr Chope said the Cobham team has been involved with key operations and prevents “kilo upon kilo of cocaine from coming into our country”.

“They are saving UK PLC a fortune,” Mr Chope added. “This is a relatively small contract that makes a significant contribution.”

He said it “seems extraordinary” to make the cut after Prime Minister David Cameron announced additional money would be made available following the atrocities in France last Friday.

The cost of the Cobham contract would represent 0.2 per cent of that extra funding.

Mr Chope said that the follow-up question he is preparing about the Border Force’s remaining capability is likely to be rebuffed.

He said when he asks about such issues he is told a full answer cannot be given “because it is a matter concerning national security”.

Mr Chope said that Baroness Pauline Neville-Jones, a former security minister and chairman of the British Joint Intelligence Committee, has also raised concerns about the decision, adding that given she thinks it is an issue then “it is a problem we should all be concerned about”.

Cobham did not respond to the Daily Echo’s invitation to comment.