Prime Minister Theresa May has denied claims she asked Gavin Williamson to justify the UK’s military capability as she met with the head of NATO this week.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday thealliance needed Britain’s defence capabilities after a news report said Prime Minister May had told her defence minister that he needed to justify them. Speaking at joint news conference with Mr Stoltenberg, May said:

“The United Kingdom is a leading member of the Nato alliance. We are a leading defence nation and that will continue. We are the second biggest defence budget in Nato. We are the biggest defence budget in Europe.

The reports that you have read are not correct. We will continue to be that leading contributor to the alliance but also a leading defence nation. We will continue to spend 2% of our GDP on defence.

We will continue to contribute in a whole variety of ways across conventional, cyber and nuclear capabilities.”

Mr Stoltenberg said it was important to the whole alliance that the UK continued to play a leading role, providing “high-end, first-class capabilities”.

“The Prime Minister reassured me that the UK will continue to deliver high-end capabilities, a wide spectrum of capabilities,” he told a joint news conference.

86 COMMENTS

      • Nigel there was little chance before the NHS announcement there’s none now. As to the ‘divorce bill’ I’ve read that we will only pay if there’s a deal so keep everything crossed there isn’t.

        • Today Williamson has issued a warning to the UK PM to guarantee £20 billion over the next ten years, or face a possible challenge to her leadership.
          For decades PM’s and Chancelers have said warm things about the need for defence, but like all who went before them did not mean it. Now the UK has a Defence Minister who is willing to play tough, for his department, and bring the defence budget into the same realm as health. Sadly, he’ll lose his job very soon, and a man of fire, will be muddling around at Health and Pensions.
          The only thing that ever gets Downing Street’s attention on defence matters is an unplanned conflict or an international crisis. As for the rest of the time its a soft target for cuts.

          • 20 Billion over 10 years is 2 billion per year given the needs of the all the services we need 20billion a year over 10 years not 2 over 10

          • Maurice 10 have you actually listened to him ? I can’t make up my mind whether he’s retarded or infantile. Either way he’s not my idea of a def sec.

    • She can’t cut the foreign aid budget without Parliament repealing the existing law that states 0.7% must be spent on foreign aid… 😒

      • I honestly can’t believe some swat enshrined that into law. Technically half of what the RN does in peace time could be classed as foreign aid. Ministers need to start getting creative. A hospital ship with flat deck on top for multiple helecopters would be one option.

        • We need two of these. I wrote to the DFID last year to say why don’t you do this stick a big UKAID banner on the side, etc etc. Put all of best of UK industry in it and then get NHS etc involved including charities to help fund it. Invests into UK industry, build capability etc etc.

          Got told they use MOD for these functions. Short sighted thinking and not joined up at all.

          • (Chris H) Penny Mordaunt the DFID Secretary was making this precise point this week. She was saying that while we don’t fund the aid areas (like naval ships and military costs) we then start funding stupid ideas to get the money spent before year end.

            The whole idea of a fixed amount per year is financial madness and it was one of the less than good (and last) ideas that came out of the 2010 Coalition (thanks LibDems). We either put aside too much for the given disasters in one year and waste it or we don’t have enough for more dangerous years. We should just fund the disasters with whatever we choose to fund as each situation arises.

            Savings made on DFID won’t make a scrap of difference to defence spending as we need a lot more than an extra 0.7% and not all would be migrated anyway.

      • We can however decide what it is spent on.

        A helicopter force of 50 Merlins to distribute aid from 8 Tide Class (KArel Doorman) style support ships to deliver it, with 2 dedicated as hospital ships – all built in the UK

        10,000 containerised homes per annum built and fitted out in the Uk. A £100m prize to solve a key issue each year (medical, environmental, social).

        Instead we fund girl bands in Africa and just throw money at anyone with a half brained scheme.

        We should not be giving aid to countries who spend more than 0.5% GDP on their military.

        I dont mind us having a commitment to foreign aid, I strongly object to how we spend it, for what seems like very little actual good for either the recipient or the UK (Pakistan is a good example of how wrong all this is).

  1. Well Prime Minister in order to do that you need to spend more of defence of the country than spending more on countries which hate us.

  2. There will be NO increase from the current 2.2% GDP spent on defence and that fact was confirmed yesterday during a radio programme I was listening to. The UK although spending 2.2% actually spends a considerable amount less of that figure on the armed forces than other European countries with the rest made up by civil service pensions etc etc. The spending raised now will be spent on the NHS and I am sorry to say that taxes will be going up. Again, this country has to face reality. We can no longer afford to be a first rate power. Brexit is hitting all of us hard and is going to cost billions. The news today from Airbus is shocking and those of us dependent on sub contracts will be hard hit.

    • Quite frankly TH, It’s sickening.

      This current Prime Minister and Chancellor need to go and go quickly.
      A house of commons with absolutely no common sense when it comes to the security of this country, or its workforce, hoping that our allies in Europe will stand by us after Brexit lol.

      How much more evidence do they actually need?

      Hold onto every penny we have, spend it on the Military and supporting infrastructure and then see how quickly they want to distance themselves from having the UK as a trading partner and an ally given the current threat levels from Russia amongst others.

      Time to play hardball not softball, just like Trump!

      It’s definitely time for a change at the very top.

        • I very much hope so David.

          With France and Germany looking to exclude us from building the next 6th gen fighter, further exclusion from the Galileo project as you quite rightly say and now Airbus threatening to cut jobs here in the UK, I would hope it serves as a wake up call not only in parliament, but in the house of lords as well.

          God knows nobody needs a wakeup call more than them!!!

          • It would take Airbus at least 2 years to move production away from the UK. If the cost is going to be 1 bill a week in losses/extra cost to Airbus (which the UK Govt has ZERO investment in or BAe who sold that pup off years ago…) that is going to hit the EU Governments who are state investors on the continent a lot harder than the UK PLC.
            52 Bil a year extra costs for 2 years?
            That makes the 40Bil Brexit settlement and the loss of 1.5 Bil on Galileo seem a bit of a bargain.
            Airbus would be out of business and the loss to the EU would be a lot bigger than the UK.
            14 K jobs in the UK compared to the 130k jobs Europe wide is the main reason this is being flagged up. For once Europe has a lot more to lose than the UK in both jobs and actual financial losses.
            The UK should use this to “Squeeze them (the EU) till the pips squeak” as it was so eloquently put by Sir Eric Geddes and latterly by Dennis Healey

            As to a FRA/GER 6th gen fighter…I wont hold my breath…the US/UK/everyone else will be on Gen 7 by the time they get that in the air.
            Anyway Airbus will be out of business before that …see above!

        • Given that Galileo is an EU project you have to be an EU member to take part in, and we are voluntarily leaving the EU, I don’t see why it’s hard to understand their objection? The UK is the one asking to change the relationship.

          • (Chris H) Jordan – Just one fault line in that idea. The UK has all the key satellite, guidance / operation and encryption technology. We are a major contributor and funder of this EU project. And they are saying we ‘can’t be trusted’? No worries. Let them pay us our £1 Bn investment back and we will build our own system. And even launch it from the UK as well (work already in hand).

            Do not doubt the capabilities this country has and can develop. The EU needed OUR technology. We need nothing from them. And if we chose we could scramble the encryption so they couldn’t use it after we leave ….

            Now the political stupidity in Westminster is ended we now need to go to the Eu and say ‘deal or no Deal. NOW’. We will be the only non-EU country totally aligned in statute, regulation, approvals and standards to the EU. There is no rational let alone trade reason to not arrange a Free Trade Deal. Indeed you have to find reasons to NOT do such a deal. But the EU are working hard to find or create reasons not to. Because we need to be taught a lesson.

            And that is the real reason why we are being hoofed out of Galileo.

          • Then they can return the £1billion we’ve already given them towards the cost and we can walk away happy. PS they consider us a security threat but not the thousands of troops we’d send to help save their scabby arses. Maybe we shouldn’t send any at all ?

      • So the UK end up with 4 Tides.

        Replacing 4 Rover, 2 Ol, and 2 Waves, which are not old vessels. Then there were the Leafs too.

        It would be a typical MoD slight of hand cut to cut the Waves then say look we have the Tides. The Tides are not replacing the Waves.

        The Waves like all our assets are needed. And in greater numbers.

        • Daniele, notwithstanding your general point re MOD sleight of hand, where I agree, I think in this case given our new bases in the Gulf the calculation is that
          The 4 Tides at 37,000 tons can replace both the Rovers and the Waves. Its above my pay grade but I am assuming someone is doing an overarching logistics model.

          • One of them had better hang about in the Caribbean then as that is where 1 Wave spends most of its time.

            So that leaves 3.

            Sorry Paul, you may be right on MoD calculations but someone in HMG need their heads banging together. Ships cannot be in two places at once.

            It is getting ridiculous.

        • What is the Wave doing in the Caribbean? Is it supporting not just RN but also a melange of Mexican,US, Canadian OPVs with fuel and stores plus a helo option? A contribution to a multi- national effort. Most of the policing work in the carbbean is done by opvs smaller than R2 or even R1.
          And Wave on standby for hurricane season sounds a smart move. The whole strategy might make sense if there are bases or RFAs or supply ships from dependable allies where we need them. Somali piracy is another example of where the RN / RFA does not act alone. We are part of a multinational team. We have to change our way of thinking. We can’t afford to do everything everywhere by ourselves.

    • They can have this government at a very cheap price Farouk.
      For free as far as I’m concerned. An absolute shower and a national disgrace bar a few.

      I’ve often wondered how our military would fair under Jacob Rees Mogg as PM?
      Gavin Williamson at least is doing a sterling job under the circumstances.

      • JRM will not be PM. His views on certain topics are completely at odds with the job i.e gay marriage. There are very few good options at the moment. I can see Williamson as a future PM, but for me David Davis is the only current Tory who could do the job. None of the current shadow cabinet are fit for the role.

        • I agree JRM will never be PM as he is too keen to speak honestly regardless if it’s popular or not. He has already confirmed he would not change the law on same sex marriage as the overwhelming majority of parliament would never back it.

          • Being honest should never really be a hinderence in politics, people deserve the truth.

            It wouldn’t be because he was being honest about these views, it would be because he HAS these views.

          • So do many other politicians and people in general but they will never air them because they are not pc. Look at the whole gender debate now it’s complete anti science but preached like gospel truth and not a single politician that has ambition will give an honest opinion on it.

  3. While I appreciate the audience of this article is hardly impartial, I doubt if a change of management will make any difference. The budget is finite and Joe Public puts Defence relatively low down in priority because in the PR battle between additional frigates and sight of elderly patients waiting on trolleys for hours in hospital corridors, we are losing in spades; and I can understand why.

    Maybe it is time we cut our suit according to our cloth ….

    • It’s because the media has the whole country indoctrinated that health care is free which it clearly isn’t 10% of the NHS budget is wasted treating obesity. At least smokers paid their fair share in taxes, time to raise cans of coke to £10

  4. Same old rhetoric as before…… meaningless lip service. I liked May when she first came into office but statements like this show she really doesn’t have a clue when it comes to defence – and cares even less. She is just another ‘cardboard cut-out’ politician with no understanding of what it takes to defend this country.

    On the other hand, I am very impressed with Gavin Williamson – very refreshing to see someone with a genuine passion for the Armed Forces. I am saddened though, that his efforts will be stonewalled by ‘Spreadsheet Phil’ and May when the new review is published soon.

    There will be no new money and we will be lucky to keep what we have – mark my words.

    • Edit – “May…doesn’t have a clue”

      I could expand this to most of the current government (and, sadly, the opposition – very little choice out there).

      Anyone hear the astonishing relevation by ex 1st Sea Lord West that Labour has spend more on defence since WW2 than the Conservatives?

  5. Easiest way to boost the governments finances and have the option of more money for defence – stop Brexit before it puts our economy fully into recession. One decision – instant economic bounceback and boost to UK government income. More money for NHS through tax rises that are widely accepted as necessary, extra income can be used for security and defence. Easy.

    Oh and we get to keep Airbus industries presence in the UK.

    What’s not to like?

    • I am a remainer in principle but have now just lost the will to care which way is best. At least this process has resharpened our eyes to what we need to change and what to do better.
      As long as we come out with more ambition, and an impetus on rebuilding hi tech engineering industries I don’t care if we stay or go.
      Migration aside, I think many brexiteers voted to leave because we are gradually withering as part of the eu. Our status on the world stage is in question and they want us to start punching again, and I think I agree with them. But by leaving we will suffer for at least 10 years or so. We must have detailed plans in the pipeline to get us going again, rebalance he economy and start doing great stuff by ourselves again. Then we will back to where we should be and be able to afford the welfare and military we demand. If not, then I fear for our future and I see many educated people leaving for other shores that have that ambition. It will be an interesting decade…

      • I was a die hard remainer, however seeing how the EU is treating us to set an example has made me sick of the whole thing, I voted remain to reform from the inside. Now I think it’s too late. Better to be first out and try and avoid the collapse

    • With the Brexcit uncertainly more multi national companies like BMW, Honda, Citroen, etc will ply the same threats.

      For Airbus it won’t be an overnight move of moving from the UK, for one they will need to create extra capacity in their remaining factors or build a few new ones to build the wings and also you need time, expenditure in Billions of £ Euros and effort to hire the technical skills and expertise to build the wings adding more and more to the bill of R&D, building the planes, etc – with the plane airlines either taking the shot or ordering rivals – e.g., Boeing, etc.

      • (Chris H) Dafydd Thomas – You seek to make a point by saying companies are leaving. No one has yet and what we hear are what companies ‘could’ do ‘if’ certain things happen or don’t happen.

        Had to laugh at your examples:
        BMW will never move Rolls Royce or Mini production because they are quintessentially ‘British Brands’. One might say that the Austrians benefit from that brand as they build the larger Minis.

        Honda were the first to recognise our new global position and now make every Civic car for every global market in Swindon. Nowhere else. They are going nowhere.

        And Citroen haven’t made cars here for decades. Even PSA Peugeot-Citroën closed Ruyton in 2006. As for them owning Vauxhall well they just confirmed investment to build the next Vivaro van in Luton and won’t decide on Astra until 2021

        As for Airbus if they were free from French Government influence they would be setting up an FAL for the A350 here in the UK to serve a long global customer waiting list from a country that makes all its wings, all its engines and most of the landing gears and other sub systems. This is politics and the EU being utter bastards …

    • (Chris H) Iknownothing – whats to lose? Oh just the simple principle of Democracy where the people decide and the Government do. I had to put up with Tony Blair and Gordon Brown for decades although I voted against them. But I accepted it (with gritted teeth). What people like you are doing is brushing aside that same democracy because you don’t like the decision. Like the EU does – Keep having referendums until you get the answer you want.

      We are leaving. Thats it. And if companies cannot see the benefits of staying here than so be it. We have been ruled by a foreign power for 20+ years having voted for a trading arrangement 20 years before. We leavers never got a second vote for 40 years. How about YOU wait for 40 more years?

        • (Chris H) julian1 – Democracy is priceless and too many British people have paid the ultimate price to preserve the Democracy we have. So how can it be a case of the nose / spite / face? I don’t see the connection?

          Or are you saying we need saving from ourselves? That the British people need directing in how to behave and do as they are instructed? Hitler tried that and got a slap. The EU have been trying it for 20+ years and now they have had a slap (not literally).

          I am sorry but the British people elected a Government in 2015 with UKIP coming third after Cons and Labour, and getting more votes than the SNP and LibDems put together, on a platform for an EU referendum.

          Parliament voted 6 to 1 for that EU referendum to ask our decision and for it to to have the force of law. Advisory it was not.

          That EU Referendum was the biggest exercise of British democracy since WWII and the decision was to leave the EU. This despite a Government in full Remain mode, a £9 Mn Project Fear leaflet and US and French Presidents threatening our country.

          Parliament voted to exercise Article 50 and the PM carried out that instruction. We therefore now leave the EU and all that entails in March 2019. I am not sure where any noses were cut to spite any faces.

          What the issues now in front of us really are is the Establishment, MPs, Trade bodies and all the EU vested interests and pensioners in the Lords have joined forces to destroy that legitimate democratic exercise – because they don’t like it. No other reason but good enough for these people ‘who know better’. Are ‘better educated’. And all the rest.

          These are the traitors who would belittle and devalue the ultimate sacrifice of so many brave Brits over many centuries. Its that real and priceless to me

  6. I can tell you now as one whose SME is dependent on the extended supply chain created by Airbus, that Brexit is a complete and utter disaster and the more that is revealed, the worse it becomes. This madness is going to cost this country billions of pounds. Several newsfeeds are now reporting on this military aspect which will result in cuts for sure but of greater concern to me personally is the employment and tax situation. I can never forgive those who voted for this madness. To think that some numpties believed what was written on the side of that blasted Brexit coach! Now the truth is being revealed.

    • You could well be right TH, however, we must move on, the decision is made. Now is the time for ideas and plans to make things better down the road

    • I think “I can never forgive those who voted for this madness”, is a bit strong. We all have/had our reasons for it and believe you and me it wasn’t based around an advert on a bus. One company threatening something doesn’t add up to “the truth being revealed”. As someone who also used to work for an Airbus supply chain company it is classic Airbus, threaten, threaten and threaten again until you get your own way, even if you’ve already signed a contract to the contrary.

    • Brexit if it is done correctly will be a great opportunity as we already export more outside of the EU nations than within. The EU has and will continue to shrink as a percentage of the global economy.

      Why don’t you stop whining and start looking at alternatives. Start diversifying and cutting your cloth accordingly.

    • (Chris H) TH – No its not Brexit that is the problem it is the EU playing silly beggars with its biggest market to ‘teach us a lesson’. They could have done a trade deal 12 months ago but chose to demand our money first and then play with fire in Ireland. We are totally aligned in regulations, approvals, standards and everything else. No other country outside the EU is so closely aligned. Where there could and should have been immediate and friendly certainty the EU have deliberately created uncertainty and a damaging relationship. And all the while it encourages the likes of Airbus to damage us further? Well screw them I say.

      We import 800,000 cars a year from the EU so if BMW up sticks from Cowley and Swindon with Minis? Audi were crying out to the EU last week to do a deal to keep our markets open open to them (and the rest of VAG. Maybe BMW should be threatening the EU not us its biggest EU market. Its a two way street with the hill in our favour TH! And now because of the EU playing the big superstate Mini, Jaguar Land Rover, Honda, Nissan etc now all face 25% tariffs on exports to the USA now they have wound up Twitter Twat Trump. Outbloodystanding! The UK wanted to keep the metals issue low key, handle it steadily and resolve matters behind closed doors but no the bloody EU has to be the big players and trample over individual nation’s interests while it plays politics with other people’s lives.

      If building parts for Airbus outside the EU is such an issue why does it buy so much from America, China and everywhere else? Answer? Because it is NO ISSUE! They even build complete aircraft in China and the USA from parts made all over the world.

      I live near Felixstowe and worked there until retirement. It takes longer to get a box off a ship, onto a tug truck, picked up by an RTG and loaded onto a truck or train than it does to clear customs and these are goods (£80 Bn a year’s worth) shipped here under WTO Rules. Yes those dreaded WTO Rules… A Beluga collecting wings from Broughton will take longer to load then to ‘clear customs’. A truck at Dover will take longer to book a ferry (or train at Folkestone) than to ‘clear customs’.

      I have never heard so much bullcrap as we hear about trading outside the EU … 65% of our exports are traded to the rest of the world under WTO Rules. There is NO problem other than the politics being played by the EU you clearly admire and love …

    • Ah TH, you need to get into the spirit of Brexit. It’s a British thing; why make things easy when you can make them difficult? Think of it as an opportunity for creative self improvement; developing temperance for example 🙂

  7. Well, yes we will remain a major military power….we are one of the few countries in the world that can project serious military power around the world, and we have ties to dozens of other countries that still count. But we could do so much more with an uptick in spending to 2.5% of gdp. I think defence will get a bit more money over the coming year…..the deficit is coming down pretty quickly (despite all the project fear nonsense that the end of the world would happen) but we need substantially more money pumped into the armed forces….

    • I thought Humphrey had gone into retirement. He is right though that we need to have a debate. ‘Global Britain’ and ‘Tier 1 military power’ sound like default positions, echos of Empire and Pax Britannica, adopted because its the only way we know.
      His reference to the Danish armed services ( being in demand) is interesting, especially in light of the Arrowhead offering for Type 31.

  8. She would say that as every Tory PM/Chancellor has, despite our capabilities shrinking. 2% is not enough & our “2%” is an accounting wheeze, not actual defence spending. “2%” is the lie to pull the wool over most peoples eyes that we’ve reduced our armed forces close to critical levels. I’m encouraged by what i’ve heard of Gavin williams so far & hope he’s the man to bring our forces back into real-world capability, rather than being a political football/punch bag for cuts.
    There’s a lot now to be excited about, so long as the funding is provided to make the MODs plans a reality. Much currently relies on projected savings that haven’t been found nor identified yet & therin lies the folly of the process.

      • It’s a question worth exploring. I’d be interested in seeing the arguments in more detail.

        The basis of the claims from those who question the 2% is that the UK includes things in its 2% that other companies don’t. believe that ex-service personnel pensions is one questionable item that we include in our 2% calculations; I would be interested to know what other items are considered questionable.

        It would be interesting to know whether the questionable items that are included in the UK calculations are genuinely never included by other countries or it’s more a case that they are included by so few other countries that the norm is clearly to not include them.

        Re the is NATO lying bit, it would also be interesting to know whether NATO has specific rules and guidelines on what should and shouldn’t be included in the 2%. If it does, and if the UK is contravening any of them, it is interesting that NATO doesn’t seem to be calling us on it, at least in public. Maybe it is being diplomatic in public but less so behind the scenes.

        By the way, I’m being careful not to refute or support the UK-isn’t-really-meeting-the-NATO-2% claim because, as is probably obvious from all my questions above, I don’t know enough about the matter to have an opinion.

        • All countries include pensions and personnel costs. For some, such as Belgium and Greece they account for over 75% of their defence budget. For most nato allies they are around 50% . The U.K. does better than most when looking at how much of the defence budget is spent on actual hardware and operations etc

          • So what is the basis of the claims that the UK is throwing in dubious extra stuff to meet the 2%? Is it simply a lie that has been repeated often enough that some people are being tricked into believing that it is true or are there dubious items (not pensions) that are included in our 2%?

  9. I find the whole Brexit situation very sad if I am honest, I want to remain in the EU – but think the EU is actually not good for Britain.

    The Problem I have is that the same people who are negotiating for us now – having complained bitterly about the EU are the same people who have been part of past governments that have accepted what the EU has offered us.

    Take a look at every other country in the EU, they dont like something they just dont do it- we on the other hand do do it even when it is to our detriment. Then our politicians, the same people who failed to get us what we needed, blame the EU for everything. Germany forced everyone to join the EURO and were the first country to break the rules (within weeks of signing).

    I also think people are stupid – the area of Sunderland that has the Nissan factory in it voted to leave. When asked why some people stated that the govt would step in as its too big to fail. These people have short memories, I think the Coal and Steel workforce’s thought the same and look what happened to them.

    So we have a set of politicians who haven’t got the balls to say no when they have and then blame the side that won for everything, and a public that dont realise how fragile their employment is or can be. Seems to me this is a recipe for disaster.

    • Well Pacman I agree with you. I voted to remain. But as the saying goes, we are where we are. The UK is still a great place to be. There’s no point in harping on. It’s happened. The world is going through a testing time. Who could have predicted Trump or that the Irish would vote for abortion? It’s as if the whole world has decided its all about me. Those forces which appeal to selfishness and work by divide and conquer have the upper hand right now. Stormy times. Clip on so you don’t get washed overboard.
      For what its worth I think Mrs May has the right priorities. No 1 is keep the UK in one piece. The extra money for the NHS was a key move for national solidarity. Very smart. Putin is absolutely working to break us with his constant stream of provocations, because he knows it is the UK that keeps the West integral. We connect Europe and the US. Sturgeon and Varadkar are vultures waiting to pick at our carcass if we fall. This is one of the reasons by the way I get upset at the anti BAe mood for example. They have their faults but their engineering skills should be a source of national pride. Also I think when the US envoy says we should spend more on defence what he means is we should buy more F-35’s not make more Typhoons ( which give the F-22 a hard time in exercises) with and for the Germans.
      We do need to play our hand well but the UK has a lot of valueable skills and global assets. We will have to become like the Israelis: a small nation of clever people who live by their wits. Sadly though, also with a constant siege mentality. Lachaim!

  10. Why cant we stay in the EU and just opt out of everything we dont want to do.

    We also need to say that for every 10,000 net migrants from the EU that we want £1bn in order to pay for the infrastructure to support them.

    At the end of the day what are they going to do to us, we should throw our weight about and take Germany on more.

    We were on track to be the largest economy in Europe by 2025 (HSBC economic analysis) – now that has gone.

    I do think we can make it all work, but there will be a generation affected by this – just like there was with the rebalancing during the thatcher years.

  11. Brexit, Trump and Putin mean the UK has to do a complete review of defence. The ‘modernising defence’ initiative recognizes this and is a hood sign that government is still working.
    In todays Times the US Ambassador to the UK is reported as hinting the US wants us to spend more on defence.
    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/if-you-want-strong-defence-you-have-to-pay-for-it-us-envoy-woody-johnson-tells-britain-8tqs8xgr2

    Notwithstanding any trade deal Brexit will be interpreted by the EU as the UK reverting to type – I’m alright Jack, its all the others who are out of step. RR, BMW, Airbus, Jaguar LandRover are all making plans to move production to the continent. We are already becoming more closely aligned with the US and IMO we will see an acceleration in the UK presence of companies like Boeing and LM. Trump’s latest threat to put 20% US import tariff on cars made the EU is an outright confrontational move. It is ironic that Prince William is visiting Israel and that our defence links with that country are tending up. Folklore says the Jews opened the gates of Christian Constantinople to the Islamic forces in 1453. They are a people who survive by setting their enemies against one another.
    We could learn a lot!

    • (Chris H) – Paul P – You make some interesting observations but can you confirm exactly when BMW (RR), Airbus and JLR will be leaving the UK as a production base please? You seem to know more than my contacts from years back. Or was that an assumption based on rumour?

      Airbus interestingly after all the political bluster admitted they were looking at the NEXT development spending. Not current production or indeed the latest wing variant that is being developed here. Not anywhere else – here in the UK. Its called ‘Wing of the Future’ and involves many high technology companies here in the UK

      http://www.airbus.com/newsroom/news/en/2017/01/Wings-of-the-future.html

      We must be doing something right because the Germans are all wound up and want our wing work as more workshare.

      And where were they mentioning moving production to exactly? Oh that would be China or the USA or Mexico or South Korea. None of which unless I am mistaken is in the EU. So basically Airbus are talking bollocks about our being outside the EU being a problem for their production systems. It won’t be. They source parts from all over the world for FALs in France, Germany, USA and China. One could argue when we are outside the EU we will be able to deliver at a lower cost to the EU, USA and China as under WTO Rules there are zero tariffs on items like aircraft wings … Airbus and their friends at the BBC forgot to mention that bit.

      • They started a while back. RR have opened a factory in Berlin. Jaguar Land Rover have said they are switching producfion of a current model to the EU. More importanf though is that trust has been broken by Brexit. These multinational companies are much less likely to do future development in the UK. Britain has labelled itself as an unreliable partner. Within a couple of years I fully expect key Airbus workers in North Wales to be offered relocation packages to work in Toulouse, French and EU cirizenship thrown in. They would be mad to refuse.

        • (Chris nH) Paul P – You sound like someone who hates Great Britain because he lost a vote and is seeking every comfort he can from scraps of news and happy to fabricate some when needed. Very sad and I fear you are confusing BMW owned Rolls Royce cars and British owned RR Aerospace. By choice.

          Rolls Royce have had factories near Berlin for decades working with BMW on aero engines like the BR700 family of jet engines. This is the company building the Europrop TP400 engine for the Airbus A400M (amongst other work). It was purchased from BMW in 2000 and is called Rolls Royce Deutschland

          They also bought out MTU Diesel in Germany (which builds huge diesel engines for marine and rail use) from Daimler and others years ago. Its now Rolls Royce Power Systems. Its the company that is supplying 20 new 8,000 Kw diesel engines for the French Navy’s five new FTI-type frigates!

          JLR have said no such thing about current production. They are moving the Discovery model to Slovakia completely rather than partially for logistics reasons. The main reason is actually the need for greater production of Range Rover and other high end cars in the UK for the global market. Similar to what Honda in Swindon and Nissan in Sunderland are doing – one model line for the whole world from one factory.

          By the way JLR recently increased production of their own engines here in the UK and are terminating reliance of Ford engines from Bridgend. Sadly this will mean the final end of any Ford production here. But people like you don’t mention how companies like Ford and Peugeot disappeared while we were IN the EU and shut down places like Ruyton, Halewood, Dagenham and Southampton. No its only Brexit that causes factory shut downs and companies to move in the minds of Europhiles. Except of course none have.

          So its ‘Brexit’ that has broken trust and not the political shenanigans of the EU trying to teach us a lesson then? The continuing uncertainty (which is a huge negative) is caused by EU intransigence and manipulation for political ends not the simple vote of the British people. We are totally aligned with the EU in every aspect. A Trade Deal could and should have been signed 12 months ago. Go ask Barnier, Tusk, Juncker and Verhofstedt why they are still pratting about. Its not us. And you are wrong – inward investment has increased since Brexit, as had GDP as has employment as has consumer, manufacturing and forward confidence. People do not forward invest as they are if we are in any way ‘unreliable’. Trust in the UK hasn’t been broken at all its trust in the EU to stop playing politics with people’s lives.

          You are so bitter you even want skilled workers to abnadon their home country to go and support some foreign power that is working against us? Shame on you Sir and damn all Remainers with you

          • Quite a rant. But the basic point about Brexit is still valid. It was and is a divisive initiative whose roots lie in the fomenting of resentment and which using immigartion cleverly placed the blame for the country’s woes at the door of the EU rather than the real culprits, the political establishment both right and left. Like other EU countries the UK had the opportunity to place a 6 year block on freedom of movement while they tuned their health and benefits systems. But we chose to open the floodgates straight away overwhelming our services. Why? IMO because the Tory voting entrepreneurs and famers saw the possibility of reducing wage rates and the Labout party saw the possibility of more labour voters. An unholy alliance if ever there was, and maintained to this day in Corbyns refusal to advocate remain.
            I’m afraid your jibe about hating my country won’t wash. Recently we have seen the NHS refuse an exeat to an Italian baby and ‘ shorten the lives’ of hundreds, possibly thousands of hospital patients. There is is a lot wrong the culture in this country and adopting a attitude of head in the sand denial is not going to fix it. Love sometimes means telling it like it is. To stand alone in WW against tyranny was heroic. To resign from a group of EU friends who respect you and which has brought prosperity is barmy. Have a nice day!

          • (Chris H) Paul P – I see you call a factual correction a ‘rant’. Oh well … Its interesting how you (like all Remainers) immediately decide you know why people like me voted as we did and then fabricate an argument to suit. You know nothing.

            Paul the problem is not the Tories or Labour over Brexit. People of all political persuasions and none vote Leave. Corbyn probably being one as was his right. I know because I was an area organiser and yes migration came up but not as you described it. Your veiled inference of racism is duly noted. Same stuff different day from a Remainer. It was the uncontrolled aspect of EU migration that was ONE factor. I am all for controlled migration where we take the best and leave the rest.

            Now you do mention how Tony Blair opened the flood gates 7 (not 6) years early while the rest of the EU kept the gates shut to ‘rub the Right’s noses in Diversity’ but it was the way we were lied to that was the big factor. 30,000 like every other year? It became 3 million. But the REAL cause was the EU because it had become something we as a country never voted for. I voted for Heath in ’73 and then to Remain in ’75. I have been fighting the EU since before Maastricht when the ‘EEC’ was quietly changed to ‘EC’ and then the ‘EU’. It was a political sleight of hand that had effects we are only seeing over a decade later. I was never asked. I wonder why?

            No Remainer can ever explain why we as a country should have over 50% of our regulations and laws made in a foreign Parliament and inflicted on us unchallenged, sing some daft anthem, fly a blue and yellow flag, pay £13 Bn a year and nearly have to use a foreign currency simply to sell widgets or whatever to say Germany. NOT ONE! I just want to trade with them not be ruled by them.

            And if you think “to resign from a group of EU friends who respect you and which has brought prosperity is barmy” then you are deluded. The EU are nobody’s friends but their own as they have shown over the last 2 years. They do not respect us one jot or Cameron would not have been sent packing and we would possibly have not voted to Leave. And any prosperity is what WE the UK created not the EU. They are a drain on our resources and a huge Ponzi scheme.

            I will have a nice day but my best day will be March 29th 2019 the day after my birthday.

  12. I do firmly believe in having a very healthy aid budget, as a very wealthy nation it pays to be seen as a champion of the poor.Its also morally right, I’ve spent my life putting people back together and have a good insight on what suffering looks like, so don’t agree with walking away from it.

    My biggest problem is having a fixed target that you have to spend, we should instead be looking at what we want to achieve and how we are going to do it, then fund it in year.

    I also have a problem with how we spend the money, giving it to Random NGOs and governments to spend on things that do not reduce suffering is not my idea of a priority.

    So I would like to see a couple of golden rules:

    Aid should be prioritised as follows:
    1) life saving aid in extremis (medical, food, water, shelter)
    2) public health aid to very poor or failed nations ( well drilling, food security and basic Primary health services)
    3) Putting stuff back together that we broke

    The delivery where possible should be by UK government agencies ( special budgets for NHS and military to go off and do this and pay for the staff, infrastructure to deliver). Any product should be built or made in the UK. And all aid should be UK branded so the recipient knows it’s the UK that’s saving their kids, providing clean water ect.

    • I agree with your sentiments entirely Jonathan.

      But first we need to invest a large portion of the foreign aid budget into our armed forces who can deliver and dispense the aid we supply whilst maintaining a strong military presence in order to deter any would be aggressors from these shores.

      Spent wisely, both goals can be achieved!

    • My take on foreign aid.
      1. We have a moral obligation to help those whose dignity as a human being is compromised. Food, clean water, protection from disease
      2. The Aid Agencies are the professionals on the ground and govt should work through them.
      3. Promoting British values should not be an objective lf foreign aid. The recipients will be grateful and respect us the more if we avoid ‘preaching’.
      4. How much foreign aid is given directly by UK taxpayers? Does or should the target take this into account.
      5. There is a case for saying the defence costs of force protection, police training and ‘ebola’ and hurricane responses should come out of the foreign aid budget.

      • I believe 0.7 is fine in principle, it is how we spend it that is the issue.

        Let’s take a real example.

        Hurricane hits the Caribbean and demolishes a number of islands last year
        The UK could have used the aid budget as follows if we had spent just 20% of the last 10 years worth of budget wisely.

        The UK forward deploys 4 Karel Doorman class support vessels to the region – 1 hospital ship and 3 support vessels with 4 Chinooks and 18 Merlin Helicopters onboard, plus a humanitarian force to deliver the aid.

        We also deploy 2 Float on / Float off vessels loaded with 10,000 containerised homes and a desalination plant for producing fresh water..

        All of the above is built in the UK in our shipyards, medical facilities and factories and delivered to region quickly and effectively, in most cases a containerised home (fitted to a high standard) will be better than what was there in the first place and will act as protection for future years hurricanes etc.

        We are just short sighted, the Chinese are providing hospital ships and so should we, but we can do more a containerised home built in volume would cost about 10k, as the foreign aid budget seems to be more about being seen to spend the money we can build all of this in Britain and then distribute the aid from our own dedicated aid platforms.

        If we do this right, we may even be able to do this for other countries who will pay us for the privilege.

        Lastly having a surface fleet of 2 hospital ships and 4 Support Ships as well as a helicopter fleet of 60 Merlins and 12 Chinooks, provides the UK with scale and back up should we need these for war fighting purposes, but their day to day job would be in delivering aid. (Fact: 50% of UK carrot crop wasn’t even lifted – we could pay the farmer, turn into soup and provide it to a country that needs it, how wasteful is that).

    • I think this may be a mistake, but I will remember this when he is running to be the PM.

      I like the fact he is principled, and its about time the country understands what needs to be spent on Defence which is about £5-8bn more per year than current expenditure.

      I have always been very disappointed that our troops do not have the best equipment we can afford and the wastefulness of the MOD and I really hope Gavin holds the chiefs to account as Nick Carter has been very wasteful and inconsistent around FRES and strike brigades. For me not the sign of a true leader.

      We can be a lot smarter with all of this, but the MOD needs a budget of £42bn pa now, but so do the police. Can’t see a way out of this without a major review of the welfare budget which is just out of control in my opinion.

    • (Chris H) Rob – Its only fair to say he is initially gunning (excuse the pun) for Hammond and the Treasury not the PM directly., Hammond said there was no more money after the NHS hike in funding so the PM asked Williamson to justify his position (as she is duty bound to do as First Lord of the Treasury). What Williamson and others have threatened to do is vote down Hammond’s budget in the Autumn. This will probably lead to a vote of No Confidence and the resignation of the whole Government not just the PM. If he pushes that far he may not like a) the reaction of the electorate and b) the subsequent decimation of Defence by the Commie Corbyn and his Marxist Mate O’Donnell. Because that is where it may lead.

      if he disagrees with Government policy he should resign not bring down the Government and Party on whose manifesto he was elected last year. This looks like a naked bid for the top job and nothing more. My respect for the man has diminished greatly over this weekend. These opportunist back stabbing bastards have no idea beyond their own personal advancement. The PM had to see off one bunch of traitors over many weeks over Brexit and won in fine form last week. And now we have this.

      • A Defense Ministery should never have to rationalize itself or it’s funding the reasons for more resources being necessary are self explanatory. If a Defense Minister does not believe he can accomplish the task set before him then he should do whatever he can legally do and feels necessary. Up to and including torching the PM in hearings and votes.
        In the US this considered the difference between a good Secretary of Defense and a terrible one. Who would oversee the gutting of the Military while smiling before the cameras.

        If you are so confident in Mrs May’s abilities then why are you worried about a risk of a General Election? If she didn’t want someone capable of strong arming votes she shouldn’t have moved him from the Chief Whip’s slot.

        • (Chris H) Elliott unlike Americans we don’t take kindly to having Elections every two years or having them forced on us by the Westminster Game Show. As Mrs May found out last year and as I commented with:
          “If he pushes that far he may not like a) the reaction of the electorate”

          We put them there to do a job and get on with it. Its why there has been so much dislike over the Brexit rebels. And this is not an Election or a Vote of Confidence issue. To try and defeat a Budget (or the Finance Bill in legislation terms) achieves nothing and would ensure the opposite of what he alleges he is trying to achieve. And popularity in the Polls means nothing again as Mrs May found out when she foisted an early election on us. She got an electoral slap.

          He has a budget and if he wants more he must justify it and if he doesn’t like the portfolio he should resign. That he was a Whip means nothing. Whips make more enemies than friends and payback is frequent in politics.

          • Not only that. The Tories’ single most widely used line of attack against Labour (or any opposition) for as long as I can remember has been, and still is, that opposition spending plans aren’t fully costed. That paints them into a bit of a corner in that any increase in defence funding really needs to be planned carefully and worked into an overall budget calculation, it can’t just be cobbled together as a result of Tory rebels voting down a budget and Hammond saying “oh, OK then” or the Tories risk undermining their key election message of financial prudence and fully costed spending.

            If this chatter is to influence Hammond’s budget calculations in the runup to what is now usually a November budget speech then OK but if they (the rebels) really think that, if unable to get a defence increase into the budget when first presented, voting it down will have the desired effect then they are wrong (unless the desired effect is to put Labour or a Labour-LibDem alliance into power).

  13. The government is saying today exaxctly what they said underCameron, yet under Cameron, cuts were the oder of the day, and today, there is rumors going around that because of the expence of the two new carriers, they may have to disband the only two assault ships we have now, Albion and Bulwark, which would aslo mean a hell of a lot of other equipment belonging to the Commandos also going, as with out the two assault ships, they will no longer be fit for purpose. Previous Governments have been cutting down the size of The U.K.s forces since the early 1960s, but all now agree, the cust have gone too far now, especially now that the U.K. is not to be part of the E.U. any longer, for what that was worth.

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