Defence

Part of Points of Order – in the House of Commons at 6:14 pm on 18th February 2019.

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Photo of Leo Docherty Leo Docherty Conservative, Aldershot 6:14 pm, 18th February 2019

Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. Moving on swiftly—we will also bring our allies with us. We are committed to NATO, but we need to demonstrate that commitment by exercising at scale. Perhaps we could do a “brigade plus” exercise in Poland to show resolve against threats on our eastern flank. We need to nurture sovereign industries, such as the ones in my constituency, which in turn nurture incredible defence innovation. We also need to get the legal framework right for foreign deployments. If we are to have a military that deploys with confidence to inflict violence on our behalf, soldiers need to be able to do that without fear of being pursued through the courts on their return.

I want to turn to the central argument in all of this. It is the argument, which we need to win, about hard power. The Minister mentioned this, and it is the central argument that we will be making as we move forward to the comprehensive spending review. We have been somewhat bruised by the past 18 years of the war on terror, which has informed this generation’s understanding of conflicts abroad, and it is easy to think that the public have a limited appetite for foreign intervention or foreign deployments. However, I actually believe that the reverse is true.

The British military conducted itself in Iraq and Afghanistan with such remarkable professionalism and courage that, whatever one thinks about the politics, there is wholehearted support among the British public and an acknowledgement that our armed forces can and will do a remarkable job on our behalf when deployed. There is absolutely no hesitation at all among the British public when it comes to supporting increased defence expenditure, as Toby Perkins noted. That argument is wrong, we need to debunk that myth, and we need a new commitment to a fully funded national defence in the comprehensive spending review. I look forward to making that argument in a clear, resolute and confident manner for the sake of a strong national defence in this great era of transformation.