Boris Johnson pressured to reverse defense cuts ahead of NATO summit


The prime minister will land in the Spanish capital tomorrow night to hold important talks with allies following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the G7 summit in Germany

Boris Johnson is under mounting pressure to reverse defense cuts as he jets to a critical NATO summit in Madrid tomorrow.

But the prime minister will land in the Spanish capital tomorrow night for key talks with allies following Russia’s invasion of its neighbor.

The Tories are cutting 9,000 troops and a third of the army’s main battle tanks – despite mounting aggression from Moscow.

The cuts in Britain’s main battle tanks were announced a year ago – nine months before Kremlin troops invaded Ukraine in February.

An £800m deal has been agreed to supply the army with 148 upgraded Challenger 3 tanks.

But the total number of tanks is reduced from 227.

In an exclusive Mirror interview, Shadow Defense Secretary John Healey urged Mr Johnson to halt cuts to the UK military amid Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine.

“When you see, as we have done, that the arguments against such cuts are being reinforced by the new threats to Britain and European security for the next decade from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it is hard to believe that the Government wasn’t ready to reconsider his plans,” he said.

“We have had deep cuts in Britain’s defenses over the past decade, which has weakened the foundations of our British armed forces.

“There’s no point in going any deeper into the British Army.”

Mr Healey signaled Labor could bolster the army back to its 82,000 strength, which will be reduced to just 73,000 – the smallest in 300 years.

Union leader Sir Keir Starmer (right) and Shadow Defense Secretary John Healey (left) speak to troops during a visit to Tapa military base in Estonia



“We are doubling down on our arguments to stop further cuts to the army and doubling down on our arguments to rebuild the strength of the British Army,” he said.

But he urged a return to 82,000 should Labor win power and vowed to conduct a defense review, adding: “I don’t think you should set a hard number without the threats we face , fully appreciated.”

The Labor frontbencher spoke to the Mirror after visiting NATO’s Allied Maritime Command in Northwood, north-west London, with party leader Keir Starmer.

The base is adjacent to the Department of Defense’s permanent joint headquarters, from where all overseas military operations are planned and controlled.

Mr Healey is proud of Labour’s role in founding NATO, created in 1949 under Prime Minister Clement Attlee.

The shadow defense secretary, 62, admitted part of his job was convincing troops and voters of Labor’s commitment to NATO after four and a half years as Jeremy Corbyn’s party leader.

The veteran peace campaigner and former leader of the Stop the War Coalition has repeatedly criticized the coalition and raised doubts about Britain’s future membership should he become prime minister.

Mr Healey vowed to “remove any doubt that Labor in government will not do whatever is necessary to defend the country and protect our citizens,” Healey said: “Labour is the party of NATO.

“We are deeply proud that the post-war Labor Attlee government led the way in the creation of NATO, which is not only the foundation of our collective security, but is firmly enshrined in the NATO treaties and what NATO stands for the Labor Party’s values ​​of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law.

“Labour’s commitment to NATO is unwavering – and that was also a message Keir was able to convey to serving staff not only of the British contingent at Maritime Command but also to the commanders of other countries’ armed forces.”

Mr Healey urged NATO leaders to use this week’s summit to “set out how they will contain Putin, what forces we need, what technologies we need to accelerate and also how we will strengthen our home societies”. .

He accused Moscow of trying to “divide our societies, undermine our cohesion, shake our confidence in our way of life and our democracy.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin


Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)

Cyber ​​attacks from Russia endanger “our critical infrastructure,” he feared.

Referring to the attempted assassination of former double agent Sergei Skripal in Salisbury in 2018, Mr Healey said the Kremlin was “behind enemy attacks” that “do not reach the threshold of what we know as full-scale conventional warfare”.

He called for stronger British leadership within the coalition.

“I want to see how we anticipate the areas of future Russian aggression, I want to see how we move ahead with plans for the response to the opening up of the Arctic, I want to see Britain helping the alliance sort out its relationship with the EU, and… also sets out a plan on how to compete and challenge with China,” he said.

Mr Healey warned the Ministry of Defense’s Future Soldier plans for a “full-fledged war department but not before 2030, raising growing doubts about Britain’s ability to meet its NATO commitments and commitments”.

The Ministry of Defense has always insisted that Britain can meet its NATO commitments, pointing out that it is one of the few members to surpass the target of spending 2% of GDP on the military.

Two years ago the government announced a four-year increase in defense spending of £16.5 billion.

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