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Peace Pledge Union calls on Defence Secretary to rule out use of troops for crowd control

DEFENCE SECRETARY Gavin Williamson sparked fears today following his announcement that 3,500 troops will be "held at readiness" to help with a no-deal Brexit.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Williamson said the contingency plans are being put in place after the cabinet agreed to implement no deal Brexit plans.

The Peace Pledge Union (PPU), a longstanding British pacifist network, called on Mr Williamson to rule out the use of troops for social control in the event of civil unrest.

PPU spokesman Symon Hill said: “Both leavers and remainers emphasise their belief in democracy. Democracy is not about controlling people through the barrel of a gun. Sending troops onto the streets is no alternative to listening to people's grievances.

“Gavin Williamson may be thinking in terms of using troops to distribute food and medicines in the event of a breakdown of supplies. If this is what he means, he needs to say so.

"These tasks could be better handled by civilian emergency services if they received the extra funding that Williamson is demanding for the armed forces.
 
"The chaos over Brexit must not be misused to present the armed forces as they are the only people who can save us in a crisis.”

He pointed out that under British law, troops have no authority over civilians unless martial law is declared, including no power to carry out arrests.

Mr Williamson made the announcement after presenting the "modernising defence" review, where he called for an extra £340 million for the Ministry of Defence (MoD), in addition to the extra £1 billion recently granted.

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) acting general secretary Sara Medi Jones argued the figures confirm MoD spending is "spiralling out of control."

She said: “The truth is, replacing Trident is bankrupting the MoD. Scrapping the programme would help bring an end to these financial difficulties and allow more money to be invested in addressing the real security threats that Mr Williamson has raised."

Shadow Brexit minister Jenny Chapman added: “It is testament to the Prime Minister’s failure in these negotiations that the government is now spending billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to prepare for a no-deal Brexit that is rejected by Parliament and many of those sat around the Cabinet table.

“A no-deal Brexit would be a disaster for jobs, the economy and the border in Northern Ireland. It is simply not a viable option."

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