Newly appointed Defence Secretary John Healey delivered a stirring speech to Armed Forces and civilian staff at the Ministry of Defence, marking the beginning of his tenure.

Addressing the assembled personnel, Healey underscored his commitment to the Defence Ministry’s mission and outlined his vision for a robust and unified defence strategy.

Healey opened his speech by expressing his gratitude for the opportunity to serve and praised the dedication and professionalism of the MOD staff. “It is for me an honour to be asked by the Prime Minister to serve in this role and to have the chance to work with you all in the months and years ahead. The work you do is vital and we are proud of the professionalism and your dedication to serving this nation, both in uniform and out.”

Recognising the current global security challenges, Healey noted, “We know these are serious times – war in Europe, conflict in the Middle East, growing Russian aggression, increasing global threats. We know there are serious problems – with our Armed Forces hollowed out and underfunded for 14 years.”

He reaffirmed the government’s commitment to defence spending and support for NATO, the nuclear deterrent, and Ukraine, saying, “This government now is totally committed to 2.5% of Defence spending, to NATO, to the nuclear deterrent and to support for Ukraine.”

Healey emphasised the importance of a unified defence strategy, highlighting that defence is not just about those in uniform but also the contributions of civilian staff. “Our mission is to make Britain secure at home and strong abroad, with the guiding principle of one Defence. Because it isn’t just those who serve in uniform who defend this country, it’s those of you who serve in the Civil Service, who work on the production line, who staff the research labs, who develop software.”

He outlined his priorities for the MOD, including ensuring the Armed Forces are well-equipped and ready to fight, strengthening the industrial base, building stronger relationships with allies, and fostering public support for the military. “That means an Armed Forces well-equipped and ready to fight, a skilled, scalable industrial base, a stronger relationship with allies, a more influential MOD, a public that understands and better supports those who are willing to serve – those whose service is the ultimate form of public service.”

In his closing remarks, Healey committed to a results-oriented approach and emphasised the importance of honesty and dedication in delivering the government’s defence plans. “I am more interested in results than photo opportunities. And I look forward to learning from your experience and hearing your ideas about how we can develop one Defence. I will rely on your experience, your honesty. I’ll rely on your dedication to solve the problems, in delivering the government’s defence plans.”

He concluded with a pledge to create a culture of respect and inclusivity within the Armed Forces and Civil Service. “As Keir Starmer said in Downing Street, we will be a government that respects all. So we will have an Armed Forces and Civil Service, drawing on all the talents. We’ll have a culture that values all, and we’ll have zero tolerance for any abuse, in the military or the Civil Service.”

Read the full transcript here.

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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maurice10
maurice10 (@guest_832538)
13 days ago

Good news and from what I’ve seen and heard I believe this man to be right for the job. Unlike past Labour Governments, the need to boost UK defence can not be ignored regardless of past attitudes. The situation is now so precarious that the most ardent opponent of defence spending is having to recognise the urgency to rearm.

FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF (@guest_832638)
13 days ago
Reply to  maurice10

🤞🤞

Gemma
Gemma (@guest_832730)
13 days ago
Reply to  maurice10

I have served in uniform many moons ago & I voted Labour on 4-7-2024. The armed forces have been cut to the bone. IMO, the UK Nations need to beef up the Line Infantry Battalions to between 900/1000 strong ( Back to Cold war Line Infantry Battalion numbers. Today there is a hot war in Europe). Armed and clothed with the best kit. Good accommodation also increase in pay needed. A lot of the most up to date kit should be bought off the shelf. Also i think that the new Labour Defense Secretary will over time build up our… Read more »

Andrew D
Andrew D (@guest_832803)
12 days ago
Reply to  Gemma

Couldn’t agree more ,with out a doubt we do need more of everything .But will Labour deliver ? Let’s wait and see 🙏

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_832928)
12 days ago
Reply to  Gemma

Gemma, surely the last time Inf Bns were 1,000 was in WW1 rather than in the Cold War – why do you suggest such a figure now? Surely a well armed battalion of 650 is about right – and plenty of them?

Fen Tiger
Fen Tiger (@guest_832539)
13 days ago

Lets see who is smiling after the forthcoming “Defence Review”. On past experience that is a cover phrase for “Cuts”. With a name like Healey ……… .

Paul.P
Paul.P (@guest_832578)
13 days ago
Reply to  Fen Tiger

Starmer, Healey and Lammy are all attending the NATO meeting next week. And hoping for bi-lateral meeting with Biden and team. That will give us a good indication of priorities and I’m sure the US will be asking when we can deliver the capabilities they would like us to have.

Jim
Jim (@guest_832668)
13 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

I’m sure the US can kiss our ass, seriously why would you even think American had the right or inclination to ask us for anything? Did sleepy Joe suddenly become our boss or something?

Paul.P
Paul.P (@guest_832680)
13 days ago
Reply to  Jim

Of course, I’m sure they would just be making helpful suggestions 😊

Jim
Jim (@guest_832693)
13 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

After a refusing to negotiate an economic treaty with the UK, a unilateral pull out from Afghanistan and holding aid back from Ukraine for a year and almost allowing the Russians to win I’m sure they can keep their suggestions to themselves which is im sure the message Sir Keir will be conveying. I’m sure Joe will be asking his biggest Allie’s in Ireland and Israel to pick up the slack. In all seriousness though the UK has no defence commitment to the USA. Such a commitment would be illegal without the consent of parliament. The UK has a special… Read more »

Paul.P
Paul.P (@guest_832756)
13 days ago
Reply to  Jim

Fair point re Ukraine: also the extradition treaty is tantamount to accepting US hegemony. I feel a reset coming on in the special relationship. Starmer is adopting an inclusive style of government. I’m sure he will extend the hand of friendship and offer the US preferential terms for licence builds of T26 and Tempest.😉

Jim
Jim (@guest_832798)
12 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

I have all the time in the world for Americans it is just their politicians and government I have had enough of much the same as the American people I suspect. But the US has almost nothing to offer us, the UK is in no need of anyone’s assistance and certainly has no need to take guidance or suggestions from anyone in Washington. I suspect Keir will have very little to do with any US President either a Republican or Democrat as it’s a toxic brand for any labour politician. However the man is also a complete professional, he will… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_832832)
12 days ago
Reply to  Jim

To be fare we do have a defence commitment to the U.S it’s called NATO and even with the geographic limitations it would mean we get dragged into a major china US war…if they went to war china would undertake attacks on the continental US of some type.

Last edited 12 days ago by Jonathan
Jim
Jim (@guest_832846)
12 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

We have a defence commitment to the USA in the same way we have to Iceland or Albania or any other NATO member. This does not mean that Keir starmer will be running to Washington to ask what he can do for Sleepy Joe any more than he will be running to Reykjavik or Tirana to ask them how we can meet our defence commitments to them. NATO does not work that way and the UK and US relationship does not work that way. It is embedded at departmental level and enshrined in treaty’s like the UKUSA agreement. It’s happens… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan (@guest_832857)
12 days ago
Reply to  Jim

Hi Jim I was just responding to the statement “we have no defence commitments to the US” as that is not correct…NATO is a defence commitment that we have to all member states.

Ian
Ian (@guest_832982)
12 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Given our dependence on Taiwanese semiconductor chips we have a very strong interest in deterring China’s ambitions there, regardless of our NATO commitments.

Lonpfrb
Lonpfrb (@guest_832540)
13 days ago

By their deeds ye shall know them..

Mark B
Mark B (@guest_832649)
13 days ago
Reply to  Lonpfrb

Totally agree. Actions speak louder than words. Not interested in the last 14 years but the next 14. What are Labour going to do with funding.

A little puzzled by the phrase “in delivering the government’s defence plans” – surely it is the Military’s defence plan supported by the Government with MONEY. We could be in trouble if the Government start intriducing their own plan or micro-managing.

Cripes
Cripes (@guest_832692)
13 days ago
Reply to  Mark B

Well we should be interested in the last 14 years, because it has seen service personnel, aircraft, combat vehicles and warships all slashed to alarmingly miniscule levels, no improvement in squalid service housing, the contracting out of services to a bunch of pretty hapless suppliers and a raft of other backward steps. All very well for Conservatives to now demand to know what Labour is going to do to repair the mess they left! Reality is there is no money in the coffers to do much of anything, whether funding junior doctors and carers, replacing the umpty prisons and courts… Read more »

Gemma
Gemma (@guest_832741)
13 days ago
Reply to  Cripes

I agree with all you have said on this subject. Labour needs to get the amphibious ships and others laid up or mothballed back into front line service.Navy needs to recruit more personnel.

Andy A
Andy A (@guest_832751)
13 days ago
Reply to  Gemma

Where will cash come from?

Andrew D
Andrew D (@guest_832805)
12 days ago
Reply to  Gemma

Absolutely

Jim
Jim (@guest_832847)
12 days ago
Reply to  Mark B

No it’s always the government’s plan and not the ministers plan,

Tams
Tams (@guest_832654)
13 days ago
Reply to  Lonpfrb

Yes, indeed.

But at least with this new lot we don’t know what they will do, but that they have been making the right sounds.

We knew the Conservatives were just lying, so tha k goodness they’ve gone.

John Hartley
John Hartley (@guest_832559)
13 days ago

2.5% when?

Hugo
Hugo (@guest_832560)
13 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

They’ve acknowledged it won’t be that soon, the Conservative plan to fund it was unrealistic, essentially they will have to grow the economy to allow for it

FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF (@guest_832641)
13 days ago
Reply to  Hugo

So, if true, the commitment is 2.5% of GDP by a date uncertain, dependent upon “economic circumstances”? Does that differ materially from the Conservatives’ pledge? 🤔

Mark B
Mark B (@guest_832652)
13 days ago
Reply to  FormerUSAF

I think that because the conservatives were proceeding with projects which would have necessitated 2.5% to complete because of the black holes – I was assuming that effectively we were already moving towards 2.5%. Labour have probably already worked out that they either commit to 2.5% or close some projects down (which might send the wrong signals). Sounds positive but needs clarity.

FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF (@guest_832674)
13 days ago
Reply to  Mark B

Hopefully, a 2.5% rate will cover the funding shortfalls of all projected programmes, and additionally provide a budget wedge to permit actual rearmament to some degree. 🤞

Jon
Jon (@guest_832686)
13 days ago
Reply to  FormerUSAF

2.5% spent on what? The Tories have rebaselined the figures so much over the last 14 years that the spend on UK conventional defence capability is running at less than 1.6% of GDP, but they call it over 2.3%.

If extra money goes on core capability, we might see some of the black holes filled in. If money goes on future shiny (Tempest, SSN-A, hypersonics) or worse yet on operations/Ukraine etc, we will see further cuts.

2.5% will only give rearmament if the measure returns to pre 2010 definitions.

FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF (@guest_832810)
12 days ago
Reply to  Jon

Ahhh, yes, the cliche “lies, damned lies and statistics” immediately springs to mind. In reality, even filling the current and projected black holes would be a net benefit. Any proposal for a larger percentage is very probably a “bridge too far.” Liz Truss proposed a 3% rate and her government lasted (49?) days. Can only imagine the reaction in Parliament to a rate equivalent to Poland’s. 🤔🥴 Perhaps a sad state of affairs w/ a massive land war w/in Europe, but political reality. Does encourage and frame a comparison of current period w/ mid-to-late 1930’s. A truly impressive feat to… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_832713)
13 days ago
Reply to  FormerUSAF

I am more gloomy – what’s new!? We currently spend 2.3% of GDP on Defence. £54.2bn in 2023/24 and £55.6bn for 2024/2025, but that includes many £££s for Ukraine (up to £4bn). An uplift to 2.5% of GDP even instantly (ie with the economy being its current size and ungrown) would raise the spend to £60.4bn. So an increase of £4.8bn on the 2024/2025 figure. What can you do with an extra £4.8bn? Not as much as you would like. The Equipment Plan (EP) Black Hole is £17bn and that does not include all of the army’s aspirations as they… Read more »

Cripes
Cripes (@guest_832802)
12 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

Agree with your points Graham. But I don’t believe we are spending anything like 2.3% of GDP.on defence. The last year we have definitive GDP figures for is 2023. The UK’s GDP in 2023 totalled £2,687 bn, according to the House of Commons Library. Figures for 2023 defence spend are variously given as £54.2bn and £55.6 bn. That equates to.2.01% and 2.07% of GDP respectively. That is a long way short of 2.3%. The MOD figures are tricky, some might say rather flexible aka dodgy. Three months ago, the same equation gave a defence spend of 1.97% of GDP. But… Read more »

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_832922)
12 days ago
Reply to  Cripes

Thanks. I got the 2.3% figure from a MoD document, but did not think to check it mathematically!

I find it hard to see where the new Govt will find the money to lift the spend to a genuine 2.5% of GDP, either in the next couple of years or even by 2030, given their other programmes.

FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF (@guest_832820)
12 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

At this point, believe that any net positive budgetary result should be viewed as a tactical victory. Without a substantial MIC, there is relatively little advocacy for defence in Parliament. Labour may actually prove beneficial to the defence of the realm by casting rearmament as an employment program. 🤔

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_832924)
12 days ago
Reply to  FormerUSAF

You are right that our MIC is no longer substantial – it was quite significant even less than 10 years ago.

Here’s hoping Labour might do as you suggest, and order a lot more kit from the British defence industry.

FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF (@guest_832953)
12 days ago
Reply to  Graham Moore

,🤞🤞

Hugo
Hugo (@guest_832656)
13 days ago
Reply to  FormerUSAF

Conservative pledge from what I recall was 2.5 by 2030, but without increasing taxes so would involve hacking off bits from other budgets and something to do with civil servants cuts as well. Not really a realistic plan

FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF (@guest_832675)
13 days ago
Reply to  Hugo

Interesting depiction of alternative means and methods to achieve same net result. 🤔 👍

Jim
Jim (@guest_832671)
13 days ago
Reply to  FormerUSAF

It will all be down to NATO. The only benefit of the UK moving to 2.5% is to get the rest of NATO to do it. If the UK does it unilaterally it just encourages more free riding from Italy France and Germany.

The NATO decision has been moved to 2025. Expect a firm commitment from UK by 2027.

FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF (@guest_832676)
13 days ago
Reply to  Jim

Hmmm, thought the original plan was to introduce the 2.5% goal during the 75th anniversary mtg in 2024? Controversy or bureaucratic inertia?

Jim
Jim (@guest_832854)
12 days ago
Reply to  FormerUSAF

They all want to wait and see what happens in November. If Trump is elected they can all “begrudgingly” agree at the next NATO summit to 2.5%, Trump gets his “victory” makes America Great Again and western civilisation survives the Chinese juggernaut long enough for Xi to collapse their economy and sign their fate through a demographic demise.

No pressure 😀

FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF (@guest_832946)
12 days ago
Reply to  Jim

Would be significantly more appreciative of this initiative if it was self-initiated by ENATO as a self-interest measure. Buy in is critically important. Intimidation and implicit threats will not prove successful long-term in a voluntary alliance.

Jim
Jim (@guest_832948)
12 days ago
Reply to  FormerUSAF

The problem in a Trump presidency is he will need a win to be satisfied and in order to achieve that he will need to be seen to extract it. I’m sure this is what David Cameron was flying to Florida to discuss with him.

If ENATO agreed to 2.5% on its own initiative the Donald would demand 3%.

Jim
Jim (@guest_832849)
12 days ago
Reply to  FormerUSAF

It differs in that the conservatives where just lying about it and labour is genuinely committed to doing it.

Mark B
Mark B (@guest_832872)
12 days ago
Reply to  Jim

To be fair Jim they are talking the talk but there will be nobody happier than me if they actually deliver ….

Jim
Jim (@guest_832874)
12 days ago
Reply to  Mark B

I think starmer will, defence is not a big vote winner for him, why put it in his first speech then do nothing.

Mark B
Mark B (@guest_833183)
11 days ago
Reply to  Jim

Fair point. Tory voters didn’t seem to see Kier as a defence risk like Corbyn and seemed quite happy to sit on their hands and let a Labour Government in. Therefore perhaps Kier knows that he must not show weakness on defence.

Ian
Ian (@guest_832983)
12 days ago
Reply to  FormerUSAF

No. The phrase ‘when economic circumstances allow’ says it all- obviously they ‘allow’ at this very moment, but only if the government accepts that this is a top priority and is willing to reign in spending elsewhere to pay for it- which they won’t.

Ian
Ian (@guest_832985)
12 days ago
Reply to  Hugo

Growing the economy would make it harder to meet the target by increasing the amount of money that constitutes ‘2.5%’ of GDP. Unless of course they plan to grow the economy but constrain public spending in major budgets other than defence. I would be happy to see them do that but the various departments that then think they’re being short-changed would kick up a fuss.

Micki
Micki (@guest_832601)
13 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

Real ? , never.

Mark B
Mark B (@guest_832653)
13 days ago
Reply to  Micki

Looks like that is the plan. Mood music is positive. Need some action quickly though to demonstrate a determination to re-inforce the military.

Jim
Jim (@guest_832669)
13 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

When the public finances allow 😀

Andy reeves
Andy reeves (@guest_832567)
13 days ago

we’ll see, I’m not holding my breath I thought that the labour stance in the armed forces was pretty vague.

RB
RB (@guest_832594)
13 days ago

Well, Labour surely can’t do worst than the Tories whose disastrous 2010 SDSR implemented deep cuts and capability holidays that still haunt the armed forces. For 14 years the Tories talked the talk on national security and defence, but not walked the walk by funding their promises. But it all comes down to when the 2.5% will be reached, if its still back-loaded to 2029/30 then the next few years are going to be highly embarrassing as Germany, France, Poland, Norway, Sweden etc. rebuild their militaries whilst the UK’s continues to shrink for several more years before the trend, perhaps,… Read more »

Carrickter
Carrickter (@guest_832639)
13 days ago
Reply to  RB

Labour haven’t even promised by 2030. It’ll basically never happen, especially if the Ukraine war eases off.

Andrew D
Andrew D (@guest_832808)
12 days ago
Reply to  RB

Let’s hope Labour can wake up to building our Defences 🙏

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard (@guest_832684)
13 days ago

I’ve met Healey. He struck me as a sincere bloke willing to listen and learn, I think he will be a friend of Defence

DaveyB
DaveyB (@guest_833064)
11 days ago

We all said the same for Penny Mordant and Ben Wallace. Both left their posts for practically the same reason. Penny, as she was not in the current “in crowd” with Boris’s gang, plus she was getting more vocal in asking for more funds from the Treasury. Similarly with Ben Wallace, he looked at we had, said it was not fit for purpose in a politically acceptable way. Then got shafted by the Treasury asking for the munitions that were sent to Ukraine should be paid for by using the Foreign Aid Budget. He resigned after being told to wind… Read more »

DB
DB (@guest_832685)
13 days ago

In power for 3 days, we normally give 100 before we lay into them, except Truss,she was truly useless.

Rachel Reeves will be key to this and will need a little bit of time to get to grips but Sunak and Hunt were very gracious in defeat and you’d hope will brief her on what sho!te lies ahead.

2.5% spent in the UK, on UK production, personnel and defence estate would boost the economy and return in the form of taxes. Reform of rail could save billions and then the bottomless pit that is the NHS.

Calling Jonathan!

Paul.P
Paul.P (@guest_832863)
12 days ago
Reply to  DB

My guess is labour will find money through common sense housekeeping. The UK is addicted to a punishment culture. The prisons minister will release the 30% of inmates in prison who shouldn’t be there and give them community sentences. This could release £4b of prison building program sitting there unspent. Rachel Reeves will close abuses of capital gains tax allowances – another few billion. The NHS will move stable, elderly patients out of expensive beds in hospital wards by buying cheaper beds in care homes and will routinely negotiate contracts with the private sector – reduce the dependence of extortionate… Read more »

Geoffi
Geoffi (@guest_832718)
13 days ago

Another Healey to wreck the Armed Forces.

Very worried.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_832930)
12 days ago
Reply to  Geoffi

Give the guy a chance – he has only been in the job since Friday!

Athelstanthecurious
Athelstanthecurious (@guest_832768)
13 days ago

Healey has wanted to be Defence Secretary for nearly 20 years and has been consistent in his support for the Armed Forces. I think he will be a good advocate or a thorn in Starmer’s side. I see Dan Jarvis is being drawn into the centre of gravity of national politics which is also good to see.
Fingers crossed.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_833098)
11 days ago

I’d not heard of Jarvis. Just looked him up. A history that demands respect I think?

Andrew D
Andrew D (@guest_832812)
12 days ago

Well Healey says he wants to work with industry, it might be a good idea if he starts with the Steel industry has the way it’s going soon we may not be able to make our own .No doubt some Labour politicians will say let’s look over seas it’s cheaper, then another capability lost 🙄

Simon
Simon (@guest_832910)
12 days ago
Reply to  Andrew D

TBH that’s more the Conservatives than Labour. hence the minimum spend of £0.5 million for electric arc in Port Talbot

Ian
Ian (@guest_832981)
12 days ago

The phrase ‘scalable industrial base’ is a bit perplexing. Even for relatively low-end stuff like bullets and munitions you need the tooling and the staff available to meet the requirement, which requires that the industrial base be operating on a large scale all the time. For production of advanced weapons (and the R&D behind them), the situation is still more problematic because the skill sets are very specialised and not necessarily transferable to roles in wider industry. My point is that if they want a credible military-industrial base then they will have to pay to sustain one on a permanent… Read more »

Cognitio68
Cognitio68 (@guest_832994)
12 days ago

I would suggest the MOD main building erects effigies of David Cameron and George Osborne outside so that staff and public could be allowed to burn/throw things things at. Their function would be to improve morale and act as a useful morality tale to help spur future politicians to not be such head up their own ar*e clowns.

Nick
Nick (@guest_832998)
12 days ago

He’s saying all the right things, but then so did the last government. We’ll have to see what they actually do.