Combat Air Strategy

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:30 pm on 17th July 2018.

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Photo of Gavin Williamson Gavin Williamson The Secretary of State for Defence 1:30 pm, 17th July 2018

I, too, pay tribute to my hon. Friend Guto Bebb, who served with great distinction as Defence Procurement Minister and was instrumental in securing the order of the future frigates programme from Australia, which benefits many people and adds to the prosperity of this nation.

The hon. Lady proposes a defence industrial strategy. We have looked at a national shipbuilding strategy and at combat air, and we will look at the concept of developing a land strategy. We want to ensure that whatever we do in defence adds to the prosperity of our nation. That is why we welcome the report by my hon. Friend Mr Dunne, which highlights the importance of defence in creating jobs and economic growth.

We should look not just to Europe in forming partnerships with other nations. For far too long, we have been bound by the thought that we can look only to other European Union nations. Now is the time to look to the whole globe, see what other nations we can partner with and build strong new alliances. We have strong military links and deep connections with many nations. We are confident that, because of our world-leading position in combat air, many nations will want to work with us. I do not believe that we should be in the customs union, and that is the Government’s policy. I do not believe for one minute that being outside the customs union will in any way restrict our ability to deliver Tempest.

Finally, on the modernising defence programme, as I said just the other week, we intend to update the House before the recess.