Sources dismiss suggestions that soldiers could be deployed to cover for striking workers in jobs not related to public safety.
Defence sources have dismissed as “political posturing” reports that soldiers will be deployed as strike-breakers.
The military has in the past been brought in to cover for strikers, most recently in the fire service, but has done so specifically to ensure public safety. There is no appetite for troops to cover for immigration workers or tube drivers, for example, as reports suggested.
One official source described the suggestion as “not realistic”. Another said any proposal to bring in troops in areas not related to public safety but, for example, to prop up the economy would be entirely new territory.
The contingency plans, said to have been discussed by David Cameron and the Cabinet Office minister, Francis Maude, appear to have come as a surprise to the Ministry of Defence.
Officials pointed out that apart from the fire service, other groups that could have an impact on public safety, including prison officers and the police, were prevented from taking strike action.
Ministers appear to have been impressed by the way the military came in to help control entry into Olympic venues after the failure of the private security company G4S to recruit and train sufficient people.