WARNINGS Britain would need to call up civilians to fight in the event of an all-out war with Russia has veterans “foaming at the mouth”, according to a ex-serviceman independence campaigner.

General Patrick Sanders, the head of the British Army, warned in a speech on Wednesday the UK’s army was so depleted the country would need “mobilise the nation” in the event the country went to war.

Tensions are high across the world, in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, an ambitious China and Iran’s involvement with Islamist militant groups, which has been brought into focus by the war in Palestine.

Retired corporal Cliff Purvis, 62, told The National the army chief’s admission showed how Westminster had “hollowed out” the armed forces.

He said the situation echoed that of the build-up to the First World War, after Britain’s military was weakened in the wake of the Boer War.

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Purvis, who served for 24 years in the Armed Forces, said: “It’s had veterans frothing at the mouth.

“The Armed Forces have been hollowed out.”

He claimed the British Army would last just two weeks if it were to have to fight a general war in its current state, requiring conscripts to be brought into service rapidly.

And Purvis said the admission underlined the need for independence, adding: “We need to get Scotland out of this Downing Street way of thinking.”

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Defence Secretary Grant Shapps (above) last week made the case for increasing the military budget saying Britain faced a “pre-war world”.

Last week, counter-terrorism police said Britain faced its most “acute threat” of hostile foreign interference and spying since the Cold War because of the “triple threat” of Russia, China and Iran.

A former chief of the general staff of the British Army also recently warned the UK risked a repeat of the 1930s unless more was invested in its armed forces.

General Lord Dannatt hit out at the shrinking size of the army, which he said had gone from 102,000 in 2006 to 74,000 today “and falling fast”.

He drew parallels with the 1930s when the “woeful” state of the UK’s armed forces failed to deter Hitler, saying there was “a serious danger of history repeating itself”.