Nadhim Zahawi confirms that army could be used to ease strike disruption in the run up to Christmas

A number of strike dates over the festive period may cause havoc on many sectors in the build up to Christmas

The army could be deployed to ease strike disruption in the run up to Christmas, according to Conservative Party chairman Nadhim Zahawi. Speaking to Sophy Ridge, Mr Zahawi said members of the army could be "driving ambulances" under the proposals.

Zahawi told Sky News: "This is not a time to strike. If you chase inflation or above inflation, in some cases pay, then you will embed inflation for longer and hurt the most vulnerable.

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"In fact, our message to the unions is to say, you know, this is not a time to strike. This is time to try and negotiate.

“In the absence of that, it’s important for the government. It’s the right and responsible thing to do, to have contingency plans in place."

The government said that military personnel, civil servants and volunteers are being trained up to help support a number of sectors, such as Border Force at airports and ports, amid fears of Christmas chaos. The final decision on whether troops will be deployed to aid during Christmas strikes has not yet been taken.

But, Number 10 said that personnel “are part of the range of options available should strike action in these areas go ahead as planned". A number of strikes are set to take place in the run up to Christmas which will impact transport, the NHS and delivery drivers.

According to Sky News, a statement from the Cabinet Office said: "Decisions are yet to be taken on deploying troops to these tasks but they are part of the range of options available should strike action in these areas go ahead as planned.

"The priority over the coming weeks is to protect the public who may need access to emergency services support and limit disruption as much as possible, particularly at a time when increased numbers of people will be travelling for the festive period and NHS services are under huge pressure due to the impact of COVID."