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‘Starmer’s only spending commitment is to weapons of war’

Peace campaigners blast Sir Keir for pledging to boost arms spending while backing austerity for public services

LABOUR leader Sir Keir Starmer faced backlash as he vowed to put billions into the pockets of war-hungry arms companies after claiming there are no funds for cash-starved public services.

Today, Sir Keir announced plans to boost Britain’s defence budget to 2.5 per cent of GDP.

Matching the Tories’ current pledge, costs could amount to £9 billion.

He made the announcement ahead of a visit to a BAE Systems shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness, where the next generation of Trident nuclear submarines are being built.

According to the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, costs for the programme could spiral as high as £205bn.

During the visit he pledged to “triple lock” Labour’s commitment to Britain’s nuclear submarine programme, backing the building of the four new submarines.

He reiterated his support for Aukus, a security pact with Australia and the United States, which involves the development of nuclear submarines as part of Washington’s bid to encircle China with military alliances.

Accompanied by Labour’s shadow defence secretary John Healey and Australian high commissioner to the UK Stephen Smith, Sir Keir boasted that he was first Labour leader to visit the shipyard in over 30 years.

Appealing to readers in the right-wing Daily Mail, Sir Keir wrote that his party has “changed” and that his commitment to Britain’s nuclear weapons was “unshakeable” and “absolute.”

He pledged his support for Nato and said that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “hatred of Western democracy” shows why it is “essential.”

Sir Keir said that the nuclear deterrent is the “bedrock” of Labour’s plan to keep Britain safe.

He added the plans were “prioritising British jobs, British skills and much-needed economic growth here on our shores.”

SNP defence spokesperson Martin Docherty-Hughes MP called the announcement “grotesque.”

“This money would be better spent on a raft of other things — not least investing in the green energy gold rush, which would ensure Scotland, with all its renewable energy potential, could be a green energy powerhouse of the 21st century.”

Sir Keir’s plans stand in stark contrast from his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn, who said he would never instruct the use of nuclear weapons if he became prime minister, and was vice-president of the CND.

Commenting on the plans, CND general secretary Kate Hudson said: “Putting billions of pounds into the pockets of arms companies and their investors will not reinvigorate the economy in any meaningful way.

“Instead, it takes vital funds and skills away from what could be spent on the just transition: like energy-efficient homes, better public transport and a public health service that saves lives and heals people.

“By committing to the modernisation and expansion of Britain’s nuclear arsenal Labour is contributing to the global arms race and tensions that we are currently seeing.”

She added that if Labour wanted to offer a positive option to the electorate, “it would commit to scrapping Trident and its replacement, and put nuclear disarmament at the forefront of its foreign policy agenda.”

Stop the War Coalition convener Lindsey German said: “The increase in military spending, the provision of new and dangerous weapons, and the increasingly belligerent language surrounding the new cold war with China, are only fuelling the threat of war, not containing it.”

“It’s incredible that, when our public services are in deep crisis, completely starved of funds, Starmer’s only spending commitment is to weapons of war.”

Despite plans to boost the defence budget, in February, Sir Keir blamed “fiscal rules” for his U-turn on a pledge to spend £28bn a year on a green transition.

Last year he said there were “clear rules of what we can’t afford,” when he refused to commit to free school meals, and doubled down on his decision not to scrap the two-child benefit cap, which according to Save the Children, would take 250,000 children out of poverty if lifted. 

This week, Labour’s shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said that Labour will not give the NHS extra cash without “major surgery” which includes ramping up reliance on the private sector. 

Momentum co-chair Hilary Schan pointed out that for months Labour has said “there’s simply no money left.

“Yet at a stroke, Keir Starmer has today made a massive, permanent spending commitment.”

She said that the priority should be “feeding the millions of children in the UK living in poverty, and reviving our beleaguered public services, especially the NHS, not bombs and bullets fuelling more conflict.”


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