Bernard Jenkin, a former defence spokesman for the Conservative party, has become the most senior figure in Westminster to voice concerns about the impact of the BAE-EADS merger on relations between Britain and the US.
Mr Jenkin, a respected figure on the right of the party, said he did not want the Americans to “call the shots” over the British defence industry but they ought to be its “partner of choice”.
“My instincts are that this will create significant difficulties if we want to have bilateral defence programmes with the Americans in future,” he told the FT. “When we operate with them we get by far the best support.”
Mr Jenkin and other Tory MPs believe that a counter-offer is likely to emerge from a major US defence company such as Lockheed Martin or Northrop Grumman.
Amid a growing mood of unease about the deal on the Tory back benches, Philip Hammond, defence secretary, said the government would only approve the deal if it was in the UK’s national interest.
“We will want to be reassured not just about the security implications but about the implications for the future allocation of work to the UK,” he said. Mr Hammond said he was realistic,