By Peter Wozniak
Programmes for the building of two new aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy have been preserved following a last-ditch meeting of the national security council (NSC), according to reports.
The two carriers, costing £5.2 billion, are apparently to go ahead despite the cuts drive at the Ministry of Defence which is overshadowing the strategic defence and security review (SDSR) currently being finalised.
The Royal Navy will have little to cheer in the news however, as the decision arose largely because cancelling one of the projects may actually have cost the government more than pushing ahead.
In an effort to compensate for the money spent on the project, one of the new carriers will remain in port, unused.
Perhaps more worryingly, the Navy has been asked to make further savings elsewhere - which will mean drastic trimming of the rest of the surface fleet.
Reports in the Daily Telegraph even claimed that the fleet may suffer reductions of up to 50%.
The survival of the carrier project will delight politicians in Scotland, including Gordon Brown, who had warned of disastrous economic consequences if it was cancelled.
However, the Royal Navy and RAF will wait for the full findings of the SDSR, due to be revealed this month, with bated breath - as the bulk of cuts are expected to fall upon them rather than the Army, given the latter's commitment in Afghanistan.