Britain in the World

Part of Fifa – in the House of Commons at 3:48 pm on 1st June 2015.

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Photo of Hilary Benn Hilary Benn Shadow Foreign Secretary 3:48 pm, 1st June 2015

I am going to make a little more progress as there are many who wish to speak.

The crisis in Ukraine, which the Foreign Secretary referred to, has demonstrated how an aggressive Russia can threaten its neighbours and reminds us of the importance of NATO and of the EU in standing up to external threats in Europe’s eastern and southern neighbourhoods. As he said, the Minsk agreement represents the best hope of progress, but it needs to be implemented.

We support the action the Government have taken to participate in the high readiness NATO force in eastern Europe, including sending four RAF Typhoon jets to be part of the Baltic air policing mission, because that is a clear demonstration of the UK’s commitment to collective security.

The threat from al-Qaeda and the growth of ISIL and other Islamic jihadist groups not just in the middle east but in Somalia with al-Shabaab and in Nigeria with Boko Haram, represent a considerable threat to global and domestic security. The flow of young British men and women into Syria via Turkey, some of their own volition and others having been groomed, is as inexplicable to their parents as it is alarming to this House. Recent advances by ISIL in Iraq, in particular the seizure of Ramadi, reveal the continuing weakness of Iraqi forces and of the Baghdad Government’s capacity to deal with this threat, despite the aerial support the Foreign Secretary referred to. Sectarianism has caused great suffering to the people of Iraq and only an inclusive politics can overcome it. Back in October the Foreign Secretary told the House that, while there would be tactical ebb and flow in Iraq, the coalition air campaign had “stabilised the strategic picture”. Is that still his view given that what is being done at the moment does not seem to have halted ISIL’s advance?