Labour’s defence policy: How we will provide strong national defence for Britain

Labour’s defence policy: How we will provide strong national defence for Britain

But after 14 years of the Conservatives, the British Army has been cut to its smallest size since it fought Napoleon and one in five of the Royal Navy’s ships have been removed from service. Over 200 aircraft have been taken out of service in the last five years alone.

Rishi Sunak has no solutions to this Tory-made crisis, only gimmicks. Forcing young people into national service is not what our armed forces need.

With Keir Starmer, Labour is committed to spending 2.5% of GDP on defence as soon as we can, securing our country’s future, and getting the best value for money for British taxpayers. We will maintain an unshakeable commitment to NATO and our nuclear deterrent, and put a renewed focus on improving morale in our armed forces.

Forces recruitment targets have been missed every year, and satisfaction with service life has fallen to record lows. And our defence procurement system is condemned by the Public Accounts Committee as ‘broken and repeatedly wasting taxpayers’ money’.

This comes as war rages in Ukraine and Vladimir Putin and his autocrat allies threaten conflict around the world.

Half-baked announcements about bringing back national service cannot disguise the Tories’ record on defence.  

Things cannot continue as they are. Change is needed. Keir Starmer will deliver that change.

What is Labour’s defence policy?

As the party that helped found NATO and established the UK’s nuclear deterrent, defence is in our DNA.

Labour will strengthen Britain’s defences:

  • Maintain an unshakeable commitment to NATO and our nuclear deterrent.
  • Conduct a Strategic Defence Review in our first year in government to fully understand the state of our Armed Forces, the nature of threats we face and the capabilities needed.
  • Improve morale by tackling the poor state of service accommodation and establish an Armed Forces Commissioner as a strong independent voice to improve service life.
  • Take a more strategic approach to procurement; boosting British industry, reinforcing national resilience, and strengthening NATO.

Labour has a ‘triple-lock’ commitment to the UK nuclear submarine programme. We are committed to maintaining our nuclear deterrent; committed to building four new nuclear submarines in Barrow-in-Furness, in Cumbria; and committed to all the future upgrades needed.

Labour’s Nuclear Deterrent Triple Lock would see:

  1. The construction of four new nuclear submarines in Barrow-in-Furness, supporting high quality, high status apprenticeships and jobs, with the supply chain benefits being felt right across the country.
  2. Britain maintaining its continuous at-sea deterrent, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – securing protection for both the UK and NATO allies.
  3. The delivery of all future upgrades needed for those submarines to patrol the waters and keep our country safe. 

Strong defence requires good morale – our military deserves nothing less. That is why Labour commissioned the independent Kerslake review of military homes to help draw up plans to make them fit for heroes. We will also legislate to establish an independent Armed Forces Commissioner, to champion the interests of our service personnel.

In a dangerous world, we need the best civilian and military minds to help make strategic decisions. So, we will establish a Military Strategic Headquarters during week one of a Labour government. It will provide strategic direction and make decisions about the balance of investment between the services and military capabilities. We will also ensure stability by appointing our service chiefs for four years rather than two.

Labour has an iron-clad commitment to support Ukraine. We will fast-track military support and work with the Government in Kyiv to isolate Russia diplomatically and boost Ukraine’s industrial production. We will also work to create a clear path to NATO membership for Ukraine.

We need better value for public money spent on procurement. So, we will appoint a National Armament Director to provide better oversight and strategic leadership. We will align procurement across all five defence domains – space, cyber, land, sea and air – to cut waste and duplication. And we will deliver a defence industrial strategy, directing investment to British industry, reinforcing national resilience and strengthening our economy.