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Reject One Third Cut In Defence Spending

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

GMB Call On Electorate To Reject Tory Plans To Cut Spending On Defence By One Third In Next Parliament

A cut of one third in spending to defend an island nation is simply not on as the damage to our defence capabilities would be so severe and irreversible says GMB.

GMB, the union for workers in shipbuilding and the defence sector, commented on reports that the Chancellor, if returned at the general election, will miss the aim from 2017 to devote at least 2% of national wealth to the military spending. See notes to editors for report on Press Association.

David Hulse, GMB National Officer and Chair of the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions, said "It must never be forgotten that Britain is an island nation that is not self-sufficient in either energy or food. Highest amongst the duties of any government is the need to defend our nation in what is a very uncertain international climate.

These media reports call into question the viability of Tory plans for further cuts in defence spending in the next Parliament.

As currently set out Tory spending plans will see the combined annual budget of non-protected departments coming down by a third in real terms. That includes defence spending.

Cuts of one third will have a devastating impact on the capabilities of the Army, the Navy and the RAF to deal with all threats to national security. Spending cuts of one third will also lead to cuts backs in the skilled shipyard and defence workforce which are as much part of the frontline as are the forces in uniform.

A cut of one third in defence spending is simply not on. The damage to the defence of our nation would be so severe and irreversible that the electorate has to ensure that these plans are rejected."

End

Contact: David Hulse 07971 266157 or Jim Moohan 07885 868405 or Harry Donaldson 07885 456726 or GMB press office 07921 289880 or 07921 289880

Notes to editors

Story on Press Association dated 25 Feb 2015

Osborne warned on defence spending

By Press Association Political Staff

Allowing UK defence spending to fall below a Nato target would undermine Britain's credibility and embolden Vladimir Putin, the Tory chairman of the Commons Defence Committee has warned George Osborne.

The Sun said the Chancellor had made clear in two letters to Number 10 in recent months that the aim to devote at least 2% of national wealth to the military would be missed from 2017, citing a senior Whitehall figure.

Committee chairman Rory Stewart said he remained "very much hopeful" his party would commit in its general election manifesto to remaining above the minimum beyond the current commitment to 2016 but cautioned that failing to do so would be "a big mistake".

"Our view as the defence committee is that that would be a big mistake because that commitment came out of a Nato summit that was really directed against what is happening in Ukraine," he said of the gathering in Cardiff last year.

"It really happened in the context of demonstrating to Putin that the whole of Nato - that's not just Britain and the United States but all the other Nato members - were committed to spending 2% of GDP on defence.

"Putin is an opportunist, he is looking for signs of weakness, he is testing the alliance. So it is very important symbolically that we hold to that 2% commitment."

Asked if he was confident Mr Osborne was "on board" with his view, he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I am very much hopeful that the Government, which currently is committed to spring 2016, very hopeful that they will make a commitment in the manifesto and that other parties will too.

"This isn't just about a particular political party; this is about the credibility of Britain, our relationship with the whole of Nato and, in fact, the order in Europe."

Prime Minister David Cameron announced yesterday that up to 75 British troops and military staff will be sent to Ukraine next month to advise and train government forces.

The UK servicemen and women will be based well away from the areas of conflict in the east of the country and offer support with medical, intelligence, logistics and infantry training. There has been no decision to move to supplying lethal weaponry to the Kiev government.

Mr Cameron warned of "deeply damaging" consequences for the whole of Europe if the EU failed to stand up to Russian president Mr Putin in Ukraine.

If he was not reined in, Mr Putin could target the Baltic states or Moldova next, creating instability which would have a "dreadful" impact on the UK economy, the Prime Minister told the House of Commons Liaison Committee.

He vowed that Britain would be "the strongest pole in the tent" arguing for tougher sanctions against Moscow if Russian-backed militias in eastern Ukraine failed to observe the ceasefire agreement reached in Minsk on February 12. It would be "miraculous" if the terms of the agreement were met in full, he said.

A spokesman for the Chancellor told The Sun: "For strong defence you need a strong economy.

"We have made no projections beyond April 2016, though we have made an equipment pledge to 2020. As the Prime Minister and the Government has made clear, decisions going forward will be made at next spending round."

 

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