2017 Labour Manifesto: Decline and Uncertainty for UK Defence & Security?

in Brexit by

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Summary

  • When considering UK defence and security, the 2017 Labour Election Manifesto does not appear immediately radical. But, upon closer inspection, there are key elements within the text which suggest that the election of a Labour Government in 2017 led by Jeremy Corbyn is likely to profoundly undermine the current framework within which UK national security is upheld.
  • The manifesto is highly vague and expansive, and low on detail. However, insight can not only be gained from what is overtly stated, but also from what is conspicuously left out, in particular the lack of clarity regarding the UK’s continuous-at-sea nuclear deterrent (CASD).
  • The proposed strategic defence and security review (SDSR) could be used by a Labour Government as a vehicle for effecting radical defence spending and policy shifts which move the UK away from existing national and international security arrangements. There is a particular risk that the vital UKUSA security and intelligence cooperation regime would be dangerously undermined by a Corbyn-led Government, owing to political disharmony between Downing Street and the White House.
  • The CASD remains the ultimate insurance policy against aggressive action by hostile nuclear armed powers. Given the uncertainty of international security and politics now and in the future, retaining the existing deterrence posture is fundamental not only for the defence of the UK, but also in order to maintain the UK’s global status as a world leading nuclear power. The manifestos avoidance of this critical issue, whilst clearly stating a disarmament narrative, represents an implicit but significant national security policy shift from the current Labour Shadow Government.

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