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Boris Johnson had plans to scrap British tanks now in Ukraine

Ukraine: Russian Su-30 fighter jets conduct operations

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The former PM Boris Johnson reportedly had plans to scrap the Challenger 2 tanks which will now be given to Ukraine. Mr Johnson wanted to get rid of the tanks a year before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine because he believed they were no longer useful, according to reports.

He was only stopped from doing so after military chiefs put pressure on him to back down.

NATO allies are demonstrating a fresh show of support for Kyiv, as the UK prepares to send Challenger 2 tanks and Germany is also expected to send Leopold 2 tanks.

There are fears that Moscow is preparing to launch a fresh offensive close to the one-year anniversary of their invasion on February 24 last year.

While in office, Mr Johnson was a vocal advocate for supporting Ukraine and has continued to campaign for more modern weaponry for the country.

He told the Commons recently: “The House will know that supplies of British, American and other Western equipment have been absolutely vital in helping our Ukrainian friends to protect themselves against continuing and merciless Russian attacks.”

However, back in 2021 during the Integrated Review into defence and security he argued the age of tanks was over, according to The Independent.

A senior military officer with detailed knowledge of the discussions at the time said: “We had to fight tooth and nail to retain any armoured capability in the Army.

“The PM and many of his civilian advisors were convinced that the tank, in particular, was no longer relevant in modern warfare.”

A spokesperson for Mr Johnson has denied this claim, saying: “This is untrue. Boris Johnson did not support scrapping Challenger Tanks in the IR or otherwise.”

While appearing before the Commons Liaison Committee on November 17 2021 Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood questioned why the Government was “cutting back” on tanks while Russia was carrying out military drills on the Ukrainian border.

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He said: “We are cutting back on our tanks. What is amassing on the Ukrainian border?

“It’s tanks … I’m saying step back, look at the wider security picture, look at our defence posture, and see what needs to be done.”

Mr Johnson responded: “We have to recognise that the old concepts of fighting big tank battles on European land mass are over, and there are other, better things we should be investing in, in FCAS, the future combat air system, in cyber; this is how warfare in the future is going to be.”

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