London — Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher fired Navy Minister Keith Speed, who challenged the government's policy on defense spending. Mr. Speed had publicly complained that downgrading the Navy would damage Britain's interests and ignore "the security facts of life as members of NATO."
In the past few days there have been prss forecasts that as a result of cuts in defense spending, the Navy might lose half its frigates and destroyers and that the Royal Marines, a crack amphibious force, could be disbanded. After press reports about proposed cuts, Mrs. Thatcher was said to be angry at what she saw as the defense establishments conducting its battle in pub lic to win support before decisions on the program were made