UK security strategy should focus on NATO, not Indo-Pacific, Labor says

Britain must show ‘realism’ about military engagement in the Indo-Pacific, says Labor defense secretary suggested to do.

Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s 2021 Integrated Security, Defense, Development and Foreign Policy Review has announced that the UK will ’tilt’ toward the Indo-Pacific in recognition of China’s growing influence in the region. .

As a result, the British aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth was deployed on a seven-month cruise in the Indo-Pacific, a new defense agreement was signed with Australia, and Britain and the United States agreed to provide Canberra with a nuclear-powered ship. bottom. Submarines as part of the Aukus contract.

Boris Johnson HMS Queen Elizabeth
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks on the flight deck during a visit to the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier in Portsmouth, South West England, before departing for Asia on its first operational deployment on May 21, 2021. increase. (Leon Neal/POOL/via AFP Getty Images)

However, in a speech hosted by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) think tank in London on Tuesday, Labor’s shadow defense secretary, John Healy, said that “the British military is devoting an increasing proportion of its scarce resources to India.” There is no point in devoting. Pacific.”

He said there was a “European-style hole” in Britain’s security policy under the Conservative Party, and suggested that a Labor government would turn attention back to “where the greatest threats are” such as Europe and the Arctic. .


The Labor Front Venture said: The British army is rendered useless by leaders who pretend they can do anything anywhere. “

Over the past 13 years, the Conservative-led government has cut more than 45,000 British full-time military personnel, scrapped a fifth of the Royal Navy’s surface ships and destroyed more than 200 Royal Air Force (RAF) aircraft over the past 13 years, Healy said. ) removed the aircraft. Service of.

He added: “

Healy said Labor shares concerns about “China’s growing military power and assertiveness” in the region.

But he said British support should come in the form of “technology, capabilities and diplomacy”, alongside the industrial defense cooperation found in the Aukus agreement.

He told the audience in a question-and-answer session that the consolidated review classifying Beijing as a “systemic competitor” was “well-founded” and that it was “wrong” to designate China as a “threat.” said there is.

“NATO First”

Healy reiterated promises made by Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy in a speech at Chatham House last month that Labor would seek defense and security deals with the European Union, including bespoke deals with allies such as Germany. said he would ask.

He said the Conservative government’s “gung-ho propaganda of ‘global Britain’ (which too often means ‘anywhere but Europe’) must end”.

He said Labor would “accept Brexit” but that the Tories’ “blind spots on a post-Brexit Europe must be corrected”.

“For Brexit to work, we need to rebuild relations with our European allies. will ask for.”

Healy emphasized: The British military’s first priority must be where business is most threatened, not where he has the chance. This is in her NATO regions of Europe, the North Atlantic and the Arctic. This is also our primary obligation to our closest allies. After Ukraine, European allies will have to take more responsibility for European security. “

‘Stop further cuts’

The Shadow Secretary of Defense said: There is a shortage of spare parts, ammunition and specialist personnel. NATO is doing right what it can to avoid escalation to direct conflict with Russia. But deterring such escalations means that we need to prepare for them. “

He said the Labor government would conduct a new consolidated review and issue a new defense mandate. It “needs clarity on how to meet NATO’s demands for greater force commitments and halts further cuts to the British Army”.

But Healy declined to say how much a future Labor government would increase defense spending.

In a Q&A session, he said: But if you ask me for the numbers and press me to fix them before the election, I can’t do that. “

Healy previously confirmed that Labor will conduct and publish a strategic defense and security review within the government’s first year.

In response, a Conservative Party spokesperson said:

“Rather than making decisions on defense, Labor has more to review than policy.

“Only the Conservative Party can be trusted to keep us safe by investing sustainably in our defense and helping our military so it can face future threats.”

PA Media contributed to this report.