Continuous At-Sea Deterrent

Part of Parental Rights (Rapists) and Family Courts – in the House of Commons at 3:37 pm on 10th April 2019.

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Photo of Stewart McDonald Stewart McDonald Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Defence) 3:37 pm, 10th April 2019

I am going to come to the Opposition, don’t worry about that. I say to people who may disagree with the SNP’s policy on nuclear weapons that at least they know what they are getting—opposition. What we get from Labour is a mess. Whether it is a Front Bencher, a Back Bencher, a Scottish MP, a non-Scottish MP or a Member of the Scottish Parliament, we get a mess from Labour with regard to nuclear weapons.

The new strategic defence and security review that is surely being worked on right now must reflect the threats that we do indeed face. Nia Griffith was right to say that they come from a diverse range of state and non-state actors. She mentioned in her short speech the issue of hybrid security, which the Government do not understand as well as they could. They could learn quite a few lessons from our allies, particularly in the Baltic states. We also have the issue of the Government of Russia, in particular, continually testing the response times of the Royal Navy and the RAF. There are now regular incursions into Scottish waters and Scottish airspace. In that regard, we commend the RAF, particularly those based at Lossiemouth, for the work that it does in keeping us safe. Both the Defence Committee and NATO itself have urged the Government not to forget their own backyard in the high north and the north Atlantic. Indeed, when I sat in the Secretary of State’s office in Main Building before the modernising defence programme, that was central to what we asked for the programme to focus on. I give credit where it is due—a new focus has been given to the high north and the north Atlantic, and SNP Members, at least, welcome that.

It is time for the UK Government to ditch the jingoism of global Britain. Indeed, the Centre for Eastern Studies, a think-tank based in Poland, stated in a recent report on Brexit and its impact on the UK’s security posture that this desire to be seen as a big global player could undermine its efforts to help to protect the eastern NATO flank. I recall how the extraordinary speech that the Secretary of State made in February this year telling us how he was going to send personnel off to the South China sea saw China cancel a visit by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is time for the Government to focus on the bread-and-butter issues here at home that I have highlighted.