Rasen MP secures Commons debate on RAF Scampton

MP for Market Rasen, Sir Edward Leigh.
MP for Market Rasen, Sir Edward Leigh.

MPs were last night due to discuss the future of RAF Scampton in the House of Commons after Market Rasen MP Sir Edward Leigh secured a debate.

The Ministry of Defence last year announced the base - home to the Red Arrows - would close by 2022 due to cost saving measures.

Sir Edward Leigh MP

Sir Edward Leigh MP

Sir Edward posted a message on his Twitter account to announce his success at securing the debate.

And he emphasised the base’s importance for the country’s defence infrastructure.

His Tweet, which has been ‘liked’ 194 times, said: “I’ve secured a debate next week on the closure of RAF Scampton and the location of the Red Arrows.

“We have campaigned for years to remind the MOD how useful this base is for the UK’s defence infrastructure.”

About 600 people work at RAF Scampton, including many from the Market Rasen area.

Thousands of people have signed online petitions campaigning against the closure plans and appealing to the Government to keep the Red Arrows in Lincolnshire.

But following his Tweet last week, Sir Edward spoke to BBC Radio Lincolnshire and said the closure was not a ‘political decision’.

He said: “What you’ve got to realise is that this is not a political decision. This is decided at air marshal level for purely technical reasons like air space, avionics and the state of the runway.

“So the prospects of any political campaign making much difference, and I’ve got to be completely honest, are quite limited.

“But they do have an effect and they are an expression of opinion.

“It’s quite possible that defence requirements may change.

The cold war with Russia may hot up, anything could happen over the next five or six years and RAF Scampton could get a new lease of life.”

Since the RAF Scampton closure announcement, a bid has been launched by an MP to move the home of the Red Arrows to Yorkshire.

Rishi Sunak MP says the squadron, made up of pilots, engineers and support staff, would be an “ideal fit” for North Yorkshire air base RAF Leeming.

And he has written to Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson making his case for the base.

But the move has further riled people in Lincolnshire, who are determined to fight to keep the much-loved aerobatic team in the county’s skies.