The comments made by John Healey, the Shadow Defence Secretary, on 19 November 2020.
The PM promises a welcome and long overdue upgrade to Britain’s defences after a decade of decline since 2010. He is right to ‘end an era of retreat’ after the last two defence reviews have been a cover to cut defence spending by £8 billion and the size of the Armed Forces by 40,000 full time troops. This has weakened the foundations for this new funding.
The MoD’s challenge now is delivery, delivery, delivery. Ministers must make sure they put the new money to best use and avoid the mistakes of the past. They must close the £13 billion black hole in the defence budget, make good the big shortfall in troop numbers and build new military equipment in Britain.
There are big decisions that can no longer be ducked in the Integrated Review, including on tanks, aircraft for our carriers and the size of the Armed Forces.
Unlike previous reviews, Forces personnel must be at the heart of the Integrated Review. High tech weapons systems are essential but highly-trained Service personnel are indispensable.