The F35B is going to be exceptional - we don't want anything less, it's a mile ahead of anything else that Britain has ever been involved with - we've lagged behind the US for half a century in terms of our aviation, the EF is a generation behind the F22 and has none of the battlespace management or survivability assets that the F22 brings to the table.
Similarly, suggestions to use a CATOBAR with an ageing or navalised 4th generation plane are flawed by what we want to deliver - The newer russian SAM systems are not in any way similar to those that were faced over Bosnia or Iraq, they are an order of magnitude better in performance relative to the planes we have with passive seekers, several hundred NM ranges and decent sensors, Russia has invested in these for a good reason and they're selling like hot cakes.
Re: Rafales (for the poster above who rates them highly), consider that not a single foreign country has bought them, ever primarily because their real-world capabilities are completely different from what the French actually claim, they're a superb low-altitude dogfighter, a mediocre mud-mover (not compatible with US weapons) with a woefully performing underpowered radar which is useless in an era of BVR engagements and HMS/HOBS missiles (ASRAAM) (that can hit targets behind the wingline thus negating dogfighting as a method of survival) the rafale is basically the very symbol of french arrogance, endless buzzwords which equate to f-all when competing in international procurement competitions, they're junk, even the french have only bought a handful, they make a whopping 1 a month...
In terms of the carrier operations, I'd prefer it if they went CATOBAR and used the F-35A variant, it's the best in terms of performance, it's cheaper and will probably have the lowest RCS, I think at this stage the contractual obligations may be the problem, either in terms of the carriers or in terms of the F-35 buy, someone above also suggested reducing the purchase to equip a single carrier, the problem with that (although it's not a bad idea) is that you need enough spares, the 38/carrier was quite a practical number, in high intensity conflict you really do need as many planes as is possible, attrition and maintenance being the operative factors.
I am definitely in favour of keeping one carrier on patrol, one in port, definitely better than using one as an amphib vessel, having a single carrier is a huge risk, losing a single vessel could essentially lose a war, have one in harbour, good for public relations etc, train on it, operate it, and be ready to use it if necessary.
Look forward to seeing the SDR, hopefully it won't be as ruinous as some speculate.