Decisions on battalion disbandment have been made on the basis of flawed political calculations, not military strategy, a Tory MP has told the House of Commons.
John Baron spoke out as he led a debate calling for a U-turn on plans to scrap 2nd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (2RRF). Five infantry battalions are due to go under the Army 2020 strategy, which will see the regular Army cut from 102,000 to 82,000.
The Basildon and Billericay MP, a former captain in the Fusiliers, said the Government has declined to shut Scottish battalions with much worse recruiting records - in a flawed bid to promote the benefits of the United Kingdom to Scottish voters.
Mr Baron, wearing the Fusiliers' regimental tie, addressed the Commons with scores of veterans looking on from the public gallery. An estimated 400 members of the Fusiliers marched to Westminster ahead of the debate to the tune of a military band and wearing berets with distinctive red and white hackles.
Mr Baron won applause from the observers following his speech - highly unusual in the Commons but audible through the glass screen shielding the chamber from the public benches.
He said: "The Government is wrong. Military logic and not political calculation should determine Army cuts. I'm a firm believer in the Union but this is not the way to achieve it. In my view, the Government's culpability is demonstrated by its reluctance to justify its decision. The evidence has been damning."
Mary Glindon, Labour MP for North Tyneside, said north-east England was a major recruiting ground for the regiment. "In the North East there is a fear that the referendum on Scottish independence will see the Government favour Scotland over the North East in order to keep Scotland in the Union. I do not want to see Scotland leave the UK, nor do I want to see my region pay any economic or social price to ensure we keep a United Kingdom."
Liberal Democrat MP Sir Alan Beith said: "It's the wrong decision, for the wrong reasons with the wrong results for the efficiency of the Army and the defence and security of this country."
Labour MP Jim Dobbin said serving soldiers were among those taking part in the march. He said it was the first military march on Parliament since the 1649 Bishopsgate Mutiny by Cromwell's New Model Army. He added: "It's also the first time the British Army has taken to the streets in protest - and there were some members there who I met - since it was formed in 1707."
Shadow defence minister Kevan Jones said the Government had made the decision not on the basis of what was best for the military but because of budget constraints. He said: "The basis of any review should be sustainability and value for money. This is budgetary-led rather than what is in the best interests of the Army."