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Proposals to slice up to £15bn from the defence budget over the next decade have been drawn up by the Treasury, provoking bitter rows within Whitehall and the cabinet at a time when the military are under enormous pressure to meet commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The rift has caused the Ministry of Defence to postpone publication of the latest 10-year industrial strategy on Thursday week because ministers admit current negotiations are ongoing and no agreement has been reached.
The UK is the highest per capita spender on defence among its European allies, and Brown has said he is putting "more money than ever before" into the defence budget.
Shriti Vedera, a junior minister in the Department for International Development, but one of Gordon Brown's most influential advisers, is also said to be insisting that the Treasury push through more savings.