Thursday 25 February 2021 / 10:30 PM Defence / John Healey

Labour to set out core principles on defence and security including commitment to NATO and nuclear deterrent

Labour will today [Friday] set out its core principles on defence and security including commitments to NATO and the nuclear deterrent.

In a speech to the Royal United Service Institute, John Healey MP, Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary, will underline Labour’s determination to see defence spending produce jobs, growth and innovation in this country.

He will say that the foundations for the Government’s long-delayed Integrated Review have been undermined by the last decade of cuts to defence.

And he will set out tests that the Review must meet if it is to end what the Prime Minister himself has called ‘the era of retreat.’

On Labour’s core principles on defence and security, Mr Healey will say:

“First, Labour’s commitment to NATO is unshakeable.
“Second, Labour’s support for the UK’s nuclear deterrent is non-negotiable and we want to see Britain doing more to lead efforts to secure multilateral disarmament.

“Third, Labour’s commitment to international law and the UN, to universal human rights and to the multilateral treaties and organisations that uphold them is unshakable.

“And fourth, Labour’s determination to see British investment directed first to British industry is fundamental, not just to our thinking on defence, but on the kind of society we want to build.”

Mr Healey will issue a direct challenge to the Government, to learn from the mistakes of the two previous failed defence reviews, saying:

“At a time of geopolitical uncertainty and technological change we all need to open ourselves up to challenge. And if the government attempts, yet again, to smother strategic decision making in clouds of rhetoric and hubris, believe me, they will be challenged.”

On maintaining the strength of the armed forces, Mr Healey will say:

“We cannot any longer go fudging and fumbling our way into the future, with major procurement projects at the mercy of the illusion that ‘something will turn up’ to pay for them.”

The Shadow Defence Secretary will call upon the government to confirm answers via the Integrated Review and will criticise the decision to cut spending, saying:

“The revenue cut is the Achilles heel of defence plans. No other Whitehall department is projected to have a cut in day-to-day spending between now and 2024/5. The defence secretary should never have agreed it.

“There are big decisions that can no longer be ducked. The Integrated Review must confirm the answers.”

On the importance of the UK’s defence industry, he will say:

“We are the party of sovereign defence capability: we see the steel industry, the shipyards, and aerospace and materials industries as a national asset. We want to see a clear plan from Government to enhance these capabilities. We want to see, for the good of our country, as much as possible of our equipment designed and built here.”