FORMER defence minister Mark Francois has savagely attacked the Treasury’s “pinstripe warriors” for proposing more military cuts – saying it could be the “greatest blow the British Army has ever suffered in peacetime”.

Mr Francois said the plan to reduce the size of the military would hit morale of the armed forces hard. He said the resurgence of Russia should not be ignored either.

He added the Treasury had, at one point, recommended to reduce the regular Army from 82,500 to as low as 50,000.

He said this “ludicrous” idea would perhaps be the “greatest blow” endured by the British Army in peacetime.

He criticised Treasury officials as being out of touch, citing the only “daily fear” in their lives is if the tea trolley would arrive late.

Speaking in the Commons, he said: “If carried to fruition, this ludicrous proposal would involve making redundant well over a third of the serving regular Army and would constitute perhaps the greatest blow the British Army has ever suffered in peacetime.

“At a time when we face a resurgent Russia, which has carried out the annexation of the Crimea and still has further territorial ambitions in the Ukraine as well as placing pressure on the Baltic states.

“Reducing the Army in this way would send entirely the wrong signals to the Russians about our commitments to Nato and willingness to uphold the territorial integrity of our allies. It would be sheer folly.

“I only have to hope that the pinstripe warriors in the Treasury, who daily live in fear that the air conditioning might malfunction or that the tea trolley might be late, have since abandoned such a daft suggestion as there’s no way that I and, as Mr Gray intimated, many of my colleagues on these benches could possibly support a reduction of that magnitude in regular manpower.

“It is simply unthinkable.”

Fellow Conservative MP James Gray, representing North Wiltshire, also voiced his support for Mr Francois.

He has also made it very clear that all Tories would work together with Labour MPs in not supporting the Government if it goes forward and make budget cuts to the Royal Marines.

If cuts were to go ahead, this would put the future of 1,000 personnel and amphibious assault ships HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark on the line.