http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?menuId=242&menuItemId=2818&viewISPLAYCONTENT&grid=M3&targetRule=1 By George Trefgarne, Sunday City Editor (Filed: 08/01/2006) Britain's defence policy left high and dry Over in Washington, almost unnoticed, our allies in the Pentagon have suddenly delivered a terrible blow to Britain. Our future defence policy is premised on the acquisition of two aircraft carriers, which will allow power to be projected rapidly around the world in order to defend our interests. But the entire project - the biggest defence order for years - is now in jeopardy. Leaving aside the not inconsiderable matter of there being no money in the defence budget to pay for these carriers, they obviously require aircraft. That is why Britain has committed Â£2bn to the development of the Joint Strike Fighter in America. But budget papers before Congress show that, in order to save costs, the Pentagon is on the verge of cancelling the variant Britain needs for its carriers. This - the F-35B - would be a Harrier with knobs on and have a special engine developed by Rolls-Royce. Tony Blair has written to President Bush, begging him to reconsider. But I doubt he will get much further than poor old Harold Macmillan asking John F Kennedy not to axe the Skybolt missile in the 1960s. The scrapping of the F-35B could mean the end of the carriers, unless they are used as enormous ferries, or another aircraft is found, such as the French Rafale. But if the carriers are cancelled, it will mean the end of Britain's aspirations as a serious global power, and the end too of the Blairite foreign policy of armed intervention. As for the military bigwigs here, who have accepted all manner of cuts (including the decommissioning of the existing Sea Harriers and merger of the regiments) in return for the promise of super carriers, their toadying to a government that has always refused to fund the armed forces properly now looks like a very dangerous gamble indeed. john Words Fail me.