Leaving the EU: MOD Preparedness

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons on 18th February 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of John McNally John McNally Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Environment)

What contingency planning his Department has undertaken for the UK leaving the EU without a deal.

Photo of Anna McMorrin Anna McMorrin Labour, Cardiff North

What recent assessment he has made of his Department’s preparedness for the UK leaving the EU without a deal.

Photo of Gavin Williamson Gavin Williamson The Secretary of State for Defence

The Ministry of Defence has conducted extensive planning and preparation to ensure that defence is ready for a range of scenarios including that of a no-deal EU exit. We continue to work closely with other Government Departments, key suppliers and industry partners.

Photo of John McNally John McNally Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Environment)

I thank the Secretary of State for that answer. Cyber-security is designated as a priority in the Modernising Defence Programme, but given that we will lose the European arrest warrant, access to Europol and the sharing of data using EU frameworks, we face challenges that the programme simply does not seem willing to countenance. How is the Department going to replicate those vital benefits from day one of leaving the EU?

Photo of Gavin Williamson Gavin Williamson The Secretary of State for Defence

The work that we are doing on cyber-security is done not through the European Union, but through NATO or bilateral agreements with other countries, so I cannot see that having any impact on our continued work on cyber-security.

Photo of Anna McMorrin Anna McMorrin Labour, Cardiff North

May I just echo your words about Paul Flynn, Mr Speaker? He was a brilliant, radical and reformist politician and will be greatly missed. A “No-deal Brexit will make tracking terrorists harder and British public less safe”. Those words are from the Minister for Security and Economic Crime, and this weekend we have heard another Defence Minister threaten to vote against the Government if they fail to rule out no deal. Will the Secretary of State put this country’s security first, and before his own leadership ambition, and rule out no deal here and now, today?

Photo of Gavin Williamson Gavin Williamson The Secretary of State for Defence

The hon. Lady had an opportunity to vote for a deal just a few weeks ago, but she did not seem to bother.

Photo of Philip Hollobone Philip Hollobone Conservative, Kettering

Whether we leave the European Union with a deal or without a deal, will the Defence Secretary make it clear to his Spanish counterparts that it is completely unacceptable for their warships to try to intimidate commercial shipping entering British sovereign waters around Gibraltar?

Photo of Gavin Williamson Gavin Williamson The Secretary of State for Defence

I will make it absolutely clear that we will always be there to defend our sovereign interests and to defend Britain’s national interest.

Photo of Kevin Foster Kevin Foster Conservative, Torbay

I know the Secretary of State will agree that throughout European history there has always been an issue when there has been a separation between defending North America and defending western Europe. Will he confirm that his contingency plan for our leaving without a deal remains the fact that with our NATO allies we will still come to the aid of our European allies if they need it?

Photo of Gavin Williamson Gavin Williamson The Secretary of State for Defence

Our commitment to our European friends and allies is sacrosanct. The Prime Minister has been consistent in saying that as we leave the EU our commitment to European security is one they can truly rely on.

Photo of Gerald Jones Gerald Jones Shadow Minister (Defence)

The recent reports that the MOD has begun stockpiling food, fuel, spare parts and ammunition at overseas bases just in case of a no-deal Brexit are extremely concerning, so will the Secretary of State now rule out a no deal and urge his Cabinet colleagues to seek an agreement with the EU based on a permanent customs union and a strong relationship with the single market?

Photo of Gavin Williamson Gavin Williamson The Secretary of State for Defence

We have legislated to exit the EU on 29 March this year, and the hon. Gentleman had an opportunity to vote for a deal, but he chose not to. The Prime Minister will always deliver the very best for this country, and I very much hope that not only Government Members but the hon. Gentleman will support it.