Government under fire over defence cuts as PM pledges to stand by Ukraine

WENTWORTH and Dearne MP John Healey has criticized past “government cuts” to the Armed Forces with growing tensions over the war in Ukraine.

The shadow defence secretary (pictured) appeared on BBC’s Politics Live to discuss the government’s spending on Ukraine since it came to power in 2010.

Labour is calling for an increase in defence spending in response to the Ukraine war which is “letting the country down”.

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Speaking to Home Office minister Victoria Atkins, Mr Healey said: “The Conservatives have weakened the foundations of our Armed Forces since 2010.

“You have cut 40,000 full time troops from our forces, you have taken 1 in 5 of our navy’s surface ships out of commission, you have scrapped 200 RAF planes in the past 5 years, and seen service satisfaction in service life fall below 50 per cent for the first time ever.

“We have to do more and expect more from our government.”

Mr Healey further outlined the government’s “lack of action” in dealing with the Ukraine crisis.

He added: “Labour will always do what is needed to defend the country and the British public as well as fulfill our NATO obligations.

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“The government hasn’t got a plan to deal with the long term problems.

“14 other countries have sorted this but we are still yet to review our defence spending, reboot our defence plans and get to grips with a massive waste in military precurement and rethink army cuts.

“These are things the government need to do.

“Any government or democracy when there are newly-defined threats facing our national or security spending have to respond. 

“We did this after the 9/11 attacks.”

However, the government pledged another £1 billion of military support to Ukraine today which brings its total military and economic support to £3.8 billion for 2022.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised to “stand up” for Ukraine.

The PM said: “Putin’s brutality continues to take Ukrainian lives and threaten peace and security across Europe.

“As Putin fails to make the gains he had anticipated and hoped for and the futility of this war becomes clear to all, his attacks against the Ukrainian people are increasingly barbaric.

“UK weapons, equipment and training are transforming Ukraine’s defences against this onslaught. And we will continue to stand squarely behind the Ukrainian people to ensure Putin fails in Ukraine.”

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Defence secretary Ben Wallace reiterated the Government’s support for Ukraine, adding: “Britain’s commitment to Ukraine is real and constant and we will stand by them until Russia changes course. 

“This military assistance will help them intensify their fight against Russian aggression and ensure they have the defence capabilities they need.

“The UK’s military support for Ukraine is in addition to the £1.5billion of humanitarian and economic support provided to the country since February.

“This support for Ukraine is in addition to the new commitments the Prime Minister announced to NATO’s collective defences at the summit yesterday.”