Lady Cobham fires warning shot to government: UK mustn’t sell off defence crown jewels

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Lady Cobham, the daughter-in-law of the founder of the defence giant Cobham, has warned the UK government it cannot afford to allow British defence firms to fall into foreign hands.

Cobham was bought by a US private equity firm in 2020, with Lady Cobham at the time warning the government it should have stepped in to protect the UK’s national interest.

Lady Cobham told the Mail on Sunday that the UK should resist “auctioning off” its defence giants, with takeovers of firms Ultra, Inmarsat and Meggitt all being looked at by figures in government.

“The threat from Russia and China is growing and we should be investing in our domestic defence capability, not auctioning it off,” she told the Ministry of Supply.

The government gave itself new powers to scrutinise takeovers in so-called nationally sensitive sectors.

There are similar concerns related to the UK’s energy infrastructure.