Cameron opens fire on France's 'Asda option' jet as he vows to do everything he can to persuade India to order British warplane
French company 'preferred-bidder' to provide India with 126 fighters
Mr Cameron says Typhoon is a 'superb aircrat' and much better than Rafale
By Tim Shipman
Last updated at 12:10 AM on 2nd February 2012
War of words: David Cameron last night pledged to do 'everything' he can to get India to change its mind and buy the British-built Eurofighter. David Cameron stepped up his war of words with France yesterday, rubbishing the quality of a French jet that the Indian government has chosen to buy over the British-built Eurofighter. The Prime Minister vowed to do ‘everything I can’ to persuade the Indians to change their mind and award the £13billion deal to British company BAE Systems and its three European partners. India announced on Tuesday that French company Dassault Rafale had won preferred-bidder status to build 126 fighters because its equipment was cheaper. MPs branded the decision ‘disastrous’ for Britain as government lawyers investigated whether the UK could file a legal challenge to the decision. Going on the attack, Mr Cameron rubbished the quality of the Rafale jet, telling MPs the Typhoon was a ‘superb aircraft with far better capabilities than Rafale’.
And senior government sources said the Indians had chosen ‘cheap and cheerful’ over quality. ‘They’ve gone for the Asda option instead of Waitrose,’ one source said.
More...Well that's gratitude! We give India £1bn in aid, THEY snub the UK and give France a £13bn jet contract
Mr Cameron added: ‘I will do everything I can – as I have already – to encourage the Indians to look at Typhoon, because I think it is such a good aircraft.’
The Indian decision handed a propaganda victory to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who last week taunted Mr Cameron with the sneering claim that Britain ‘has no industry’.
'Cheap and cheerful': The French-built Rafale jet which was described last night as the 'Asda option'. Tory MPs are furious that India has snubbed the UK when Britain is pumping nearly £1.2billion of foreign aid into the country over the next four years. France gave just £18million in 2009. Tory David Davis, who represents workers at BAE’s Brough plant, near Hull, said: ‘That is disastrous news for thousands of workers up and down the country.’ He urged Mr Cameron to do more, ‘given the long relationship between India and Britain and given that we give many times more aid to India than France ever did’. The Government was again on the back foot yesterday after it emerged that the Ministry of Defence will no longer give British companies priority over their foreign rivals when buying weapons and equipment for the Armed Forces. Defence procurement minister Peter Luff said the only exception would be when buying British was necessary to maintain national security, as he outlined details of a new White Paper. Unions accused the Government of a ‘stunning betrayal’ of UK manufacturing for the decision to buy defence equipment ‘off the shelf’ from the cheapest supplier. Unite, which represents staff at BAE Systems plants in Samlesbury and Warton in Lancashire, called on Mr Cameron to fly to India. The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said No 10 was in talks with the British High Commission in Delhi, exploring ways to reopen the bidding process. 'Superior': The British manufactured Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft which the Indians have rejected because it is more expensive
He said: ‘We are looking at this issue closely. Clearly it is not a done deal.’ He also defended the plans not to protect UK firms when bidding for contracts with the MoD on the grounds that the new plans will save money. ‘Clearly defence procurement has been a problem in the past. We had a huge black hole in the defence budget.
‘We need to ensure we get the best equipment for our Armed Forces at the best price. ‘We have a competitive defence industry in this country and it will continue to win contracts.’ he spokesman also defended the huge amount of aid sent to India. ‘India is still home to one third of the people in the world who live on less than 80p a day. We have targeted the poorest people and places where there are security implications for the UK.’
Cameron opens fire on France's 'Asda option' jet as he vows to do everything he can to persuade India to order British warplane | Mail Online