THE national Conservative Party has thrown its support behind the Daily Echo’s campaign for a towering tribute to the Spitfire.

Shadow defence secretary Liam Fox pledged that a Tory Government would champion the ambitious plans for a 180ft stainless steel memorial at Town Quay.

On a visit to Southampton’s Solent Sky Museum, as part of a tour of the region with parliamentary candidates Councillor Royston Smith and Councillor Jeremy Moulton, Mr Fox said the landmark was of national importance.

He said: “So seldom do you get one piece of equipment that is so iconic and so identified with the country’s freedom than you do with the Spitfire and it’s because of the contribution that it almost uniquely made at a vital time in Britain’s history.

“There is absolute duty that we don’t forget the contribution it made.”

He added: “The people of Southampton designed and built what became one of the saviours of this country in its hour of need.

“Not only should the people of Southampton celebrate that the Spitfire was part of them, but the country as a whole should remember what a contribution it made to this country’s ultimate survival from the evils of Nazism.”

However, he said it was unlikely a Tory government could fund the project, estimated to cost £1.5m, given the economic downturn.

The support is a further boost to the Daily Echo’s campaign after Prime Minister Gordon Brown last month reiterated his support for the monument.