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Armed Forces Day: City MP praises contribution and sacrifice of Armed Forces community

Stephen Morgan MP has paid tribute to the Armed Forces community for their ‘crucial role in defending others at home and abroad’ following a flag raising ceremony at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard to mark Armed Forces Day.

The Armed Forces Day event also included a special performance from the Royal Marines Association Band, as well as other fun activities for the whole family to enjoy.

The City MP presented awards to winners of the Junior Field Gun competition, which Portsmouth area schools participated in.

Armed Forces Day is held each year on the last Saturday of June to celebrate the service and sacrifice of our UK Armed Forces, veterans, and their families.

It comes after the Portsmouth MP invited local members of the armed forces community to a reception in Parliament this week, with Labour Leader Keir Starmer and Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey, to celebrate the contribution of service personnel, veterans and their families, both at home and abroad.

Despite the contribution of service personnel, government has cut the Army to its smallest size in 300 years. Labour has said it boost veterans’ mental health support by £35m.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said:

“On Armed Forces Day, we pay tribute to the crucial role they play in defending our communities at home and abroad.

“They showed total professionalism with their support during the pandemic and continue to do so now in defending the UK and our NATO allies from Russian aggression.

“Labour’s commitment to our Armed Forces is unbreakable. I am deeply proud of our service men and service women, veterans and their families in Portsmouth, and I want to thank them for their incredible service as we mark Armed Forces Day.”

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Armed Forces Week: Portsmouth MP hosts local Armed Forces community members at reception with Keir Starmer

Stephen Morgan MP welcomed a number of local members of the armed forces community at a reception in Parliament this week, with Labour Leader Keir Starmer and Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey, as the country prepares to mark Armed Forces Day this Saturday.

The event was attended by other Labour MPs and members of the armed forces community from across the country to celebrate the contribution service personnel, veterans and their families, both at home and abroad.

The Portsmouth South MP highlighted that from deployments abroad in response to the invasion of Ukraine, to deployments at home during the COVID 19 pandemic, the Armed Forces are essential to our national defence, our national resilience and our national NATO obligations.

Mr Morgan also stressed that the Conservatives have left our Armed Forces with weakened foundations. The Conservatives have cut the Army to its smallest size in 300 years and Ministers must halt army cuts now. Labour would also strengthen support for veterans – and boost veterans mental health support by £35m.

Armed Forces Day is held each year on the last Saturday of June to celebrate the service and sacrifice of our UK Armed Forces, veterans, and their families. This year’s events in the city will be taking place at the Historic Dockyard this Saturday.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“I was delighted to welcome members of our city’s armed forces community to Parliament this week to celebrate Armed Forces Day with Labour Leader Keir Starmer.

“Our Armed Forces play a crucial role in defending our communities at home and abroad. They showed total professionalism with their support during the pandemic and continue to play a crucial role in defending the UK and our NATO allies from Russian aggression.

“Labour’s commitment to our Armed Forces is unbreakable. I am deeply proud of our service men and service women, veterans and their families in Portsmouth, and I want to thank them for their incredible service as we prepare to mark Armed Forces Day later this week.”

Photo of Stephen Morgan MP with Louise Purcell and Chris Purcell. Chris is a Falklands veteran and HMS Sheffield survivor. Both Chris and Louise have raised a fantastic £1m for the Poppy Appeal from Portsmouth.

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Falklands 40: Portsmouth MP statement

Commenting on the 40th anniversary of the end of the Falklands War, Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan, said:

Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan, said:

“Forty years on from the end of the Falklands war, we reflect on the incredible efforts and sacrifices made by our city to protect British civilians overseas.

“From the dock workers who prepared the South Atlantic Task Force at speed, to the service personnel who both risked and sadly gave their lives to defend Britons, we all owe them an incredible debt.

“It’s so important people across Portsmouth and the country take part in commemorations to take the opportunity to reflect and pay their respects.

“I’m continuing to support local Falklands veterans and their families to secure the support they need, during a period which can be difficult for so many. We are forever grateful for their heroic efforts.

“On the 40th anniversary of the war’s end, we pay tribute to them all and honour the memory of those who did not return home.”

 

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Portsmouth MP attacks Ministers on ‘failure’ to deliver fair pay for troops

Stephen Morgan MP attacked the government in the House of Commons today on its failure to deliver fair pay for service personnel, after new Ministry of Defence (MoD) data revealed four out of ten servicemen and service women are unhappy with their pay and benefits.

According to recent figures released by the MoD, 40% of servicemen and women are unhappy with their pay and benefits, after pay satisfaction fell for the first time in four years.

Ministers have not confirmed yet whether members of the Armed Forces will receive an increase in pay this year, after pay rises for personnel were “paused” for 2021/22.

The Portsmouth MP pushed the Minister today to provide an update on what success he has had in securing the pay service personnel ‘need and deserve’, but no clear and definitive answer was provided.

It comes as the cost-of-living crisis continues to impact servicemen and women across the country, with inflation now at 7.8%.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said:

“As the Conservative cost of living crisis continues to impact service families, four in ten personnel say they are unhappy with their pay and benefits.

“Many people in Portsmouth and across the country are wondering how they are going to pay their bills right now, so to leave those who have sacrificed so much for us with this level of uncertainty is a far cry from what they deserve.

“I will continue to speak up in Parliament for our servicemen and women to end this uncertainty and secure the fairer pay and benefits they need.”

The MP has been a longstanding champion of service personnel, speaking up on issues affecting the Armed Forces community. His first debate in Parliament was on securing a better pay deal for personnel.

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Commonwealth War Graves Week: City MP pays tribute to sacrifices of Commonwealth veterans

Stephen Morgan MP has paid tribute to the sacrifices of Commonwealth veterans as the city marks Commonwealth War Graves Week.

The Portsmouth South MP has marked the sacrifice of Commonwealth veterans who are buried in the city, following the recent campaign victory to drop eye-watering fees for Commonwealth veterans who serve in our armed forces.

Commonwealth War Graves Week is the annual awareness week, run by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), which aims to encourage communities to come together and discover the World War heritage on their doorstep.

One of the memorials maintained by the CWGC in the city resides in Portsmouth Kingston Cemetery, honouring 9 Commonwealth veterans who gave their lives, among hundreds of other UK service personnel.

One Commonwealth soldier remembered at the CWGC Kingston Cemetery is Canadian Private Vernon Taylor, who died at the tender age of 22. Private Taylor served in the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders of Canada, R.C.I.C.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said:

“On Commonwealth War Graves Week, we pay tribute to those from across the Commonwealth who made the ultimate sacrifice to serve and protect others.

“We must never forget the human cost to so many Commonwealth nations during both world wars, and honour their incredible bravery during such a difficult period.”

The City MP and former Shadow Armed Forces Minister has been a tireless campaigner for the rights and interests of Commonwealth veterans, including leading Labour’s amendments to the Armed Forces Bill, pushing for the controversial £2,389 Commonwealth UK Visa fee to be scrapped.

Despite voting against the amendments down at the time, government climbed down in February and waived the visa fees, after mounting pressure.

The Portsmouth MP, added:

“Overseas personnel continue to make an enormous contribution to the UK and global peace and security, so it’s only right they should face as few barriers as possible to reside in the country they defended.

“But government should not have been dragged kicking and screaming to arrive at this common-sense decision, which myself, parliamentary colleagues and many service charities called for some time. I’m delighted to have played a small part in securing this important victory for Commonwealth veterans.”

However, some UK veterans are pushing for government to now go further.

David McMullen of Citizenship 4 Soldiers, said:

“I served in Afghanistan with Commonwealth soldiers. They fought alongside me in exactly the same way as British nationals, and I don’t see why they should be treated any differently.

“Labour’s amendments to the Armed Forces Bill worked alongside our campaign to force the government to act and Ministers’ announcement in February was an important campaign victory, but this must now expand to cover family members.

“The fees have massively increased since they were introduced in 2003. Some have to get second jobs if they want to bring family members over, or are simply priced out of being able to stay in the UK.

“It’s time for Ministers to put their money where their mouth is, and deliver on their support for these veterans.”

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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: Stephen Morgan MP responds

Many of you have contacted me in the last few days regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. I know that, like me, you will have been deeply moved by the suffering caused by this unprovoked and unjustifiable attack.

I wanted to set out Labour’s views on this important issue and answer some of the specific questions constituents have asked me in the last few days.

Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine is an unprovoked and unjustifiable outrage that is having tragic consequences for Ukraine and its people. It is a heinous violation of international law that breaks multiple treaties and commitments, including the fundamental principles of the UN Charter. It should be utterly condemned by all nations.

We must now ensure that our Government stands up to dictators and tyrants and stands in solidarity with Ukrainians as they defend their homeland. There can be no space for equivocation when faced with the evil that Putin has unleashed. His actions pose a grave threat to the international order on which we all depend.

NATO and military assistance

The Labour Party’s commitment to NATO is unshakeable – and the alliance has strongly condemned Putin’s actions. We must move in lockstep with our NATO allies, and take steps to reinforce NATO members on the Eastern flank. The Government has Labour’s full support to do this. It is right that Britain has provided support to Ukraine to defend itself – and this should continue.

It is clear that Ukranians intend to defend their country and we must continue to support them in this endeavour.

The UK has already sent defensive assistance to the country – and this has included anti-tank weapons systems, body armour, helmets and boots. We should respond to specific requests from the Ukrainian Government for assistance – which has been the basis for our previous support, as well as coordinate support with our allies.

Sanctions

The sanctions package announced by the government contains measures that are good in principle, but the rhetoric must match the reality as we scrutinise the details, and Labour believes there is more that could be done.

The influence of corrupt Russian money must be extricated from the UK.  Despite warning after warning, the Government has been asleep at the wheel and failed to act, leaving Britain as the destination of choice for kleptocrats who hide their wealth under our noses. It should not have taken an invasion of Ukraine for the government to take action. This must mark a turning point.

The government must now bring forward the urgent measures that Labour have repeatedly called for, ending the impunity that oligarchs have enjoyed, reforming Companies House to crack down on the shell companies that hide suspect wealth, introducing an Overseas Entities Bill to lift the veil on property ownership, and finally bringing forward the Economic Crime Bill that has been delayed.

Refuge

The sad reality is millions have already been displaced and this is likely to worsen in the weeks and months ahead. The Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary must coordinate urgently with our allies, with the UN and with neighbouring countries to offer urgent humanitarian assistance, and support for those crossing the border, to ensure they can leave as safely as possible.

Alongside countries across Europe and across the world we need to make all the necessary preparations to ensure that those who are fleeing conflict can find safety and sanctuary. It is unacceptable that the Home Office is continuing to impose stringent visa requirements on those fleeing war, including the families of British citizens. A safe sanctuary route should be established immediately.

Portsmouth has a well-established reputation as a place of sanctuary. Last year, I was pleased to meet some of the families that were evacuated from Afghanistan as part of Operation Pitting. I have written to the Immigration Minister to reinforce Labour’s calls for the introduction of a safe and legal sanctuary route without further delay.

Frequently asked questions:

How would Labour go further on sanctions?

There is more we can do to cut Putin’s rogue regime out of our financial system.

We are urging the government to widen export controls to include luxury goods, widen the number of banks prevented from accessing sterling, sanction an expanded list of oligarchs and cronies and increase the pace at which individuals and entities are designated, expand sectoral sanctions to cover insurance and further limit the supply of goods, services and technology to the energy sector and other strategic sectors of the Russian economy, apply sanctions to wealth held under the name of family members.

Will this end with UK or NATO troops being sent to Ukraine?

UK or NATO troops will not be deployed to Ukraine. NATO’s Secretary General has been clear about that and said there are no NATO forces in Ukraine. Ukraine is not a NATO member and is not covered by Article 5’s mutual security guarantee.

But we should be absolutely clear about our commitment to the security of NATO allies, many of whom feel threatened by Russia, and we should bolster and reinforce our NATO allies, especially on the Eastern Flank. The Government has our full support to do that. It is also right that Britain continues to provide assistance to help Ukraine defend itself.

What is Labour saying needs to happen to assist in the humanitarian crisis?

The government must urgently prepare humanitarian support for Ukraine, and for neighbours and partners on its borders.

Estimates suggest there are already 2.9 million people in need and this number is likely to rise fast as more areas are targeted. There is a risk of large-scale displacement of people and flows of refugees out of the country fleeing the conflict.

We need the government to urgently provide details on the scale of aid it is providing to support the Ukrainian people at their hour of need.

Russia must grant full and unfettered humanitarian access to the International Red Cross, as it is required to under the Geneva Conventions and abide by the laws of armed conflict.

Does Labour support the government’s new sanctions?

Labour wants to see the strongest possible sanctions as fast as possible to effectively freeze the Russian regime out of our economic system. It’s important that there is unity across our allies and partners in hitting Putin incredibly hard.

A lot of the new sanctions measures that the government announced are good in principle, but the rhetoric must match the reality as we scrutinise the detail and we think the government can go further. Labour strongly welcomes the ban on trading sovereign debts and limiting access to financial markets, which we had been calling for. But the asset freeze designations seem incredibly slow. We would like the government to be moving faster than this and we hope they will in the coming days.

Hasn’t the west been weak in allowing this to happen in the first place?

These are the actions of an unhinged tyrant who has a total disregard for the health and wealth of the people of Russia and Ukraine.

We’re all saddened by this act of war, but we aren’t shocked. Putin has been responsible for conflict in regions of Ukraine since 2014, and he has been propping up authoritarians in the region for longer. Clearly it is a huge tragedy that he diplomatic process of the Minsk agreements have failed. Putin has reached the conclusion that the benefits of invasion have outweighed the costs.

We must work with our Allies across Europe, Nato and beyond to reach new security arrangements that ensure he will never make that calculation in the future.

With energy prices already up, will sanctions against Russia hurt the pockets of us at home?

Thankfully Britain is less exposed to this problem than our European neighbours.

Energy security is vital. We must work with our European allies to handle any disruption in the supply of energy and raw materials.

It is true that we are uniquely exposed to the global gas crisis because of a decade of Tory mismanagement. Gas storage has been cut and we’re reliant on imports. Homes are not insulated; and they’ve been slow on renewables and nuclear.

Is Labour committed to fundamental reform of our energy system?

Yes. That means reducing Britain’s reliance on imported gas by accelerating home-grown renewables and new nuclear.

Making sure 19 million homes are warm and well-insulated, saving households an average of £400 a year on their bills.

And regulating the market better, with a pledge to never again let energy companies play fast and loose with the rules.

Is this a breach of international law?

As NATO and the UN has said, this attack is a grave violation of international law, including the UN Charter, and is wholly contradictory to Russia’s commitments in the Helsinki Final Act, the Charter of Paris, the Budapest Memorandum and the NATO-Russia Founding Act.

It constitutes an act of aggression against an independent peaceful country.

 

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City MP grills Ministers on UK cyber-security resilience after Ukraine attacks

Stephen Morgan MP grilled Ministers in the House of Commons today on how the Government is strengthening UK cyber security in response to growing threats and Russian aggression.

It comes after Ukraine last week accused Russia of a cyber attack on two banks and its defence ministry, as tensions between Ukraine and NATO allies and Russia continue to grow.

The UK government confirmed on Friday that the National Cyber Security Centre attributed the reports of the distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on 15 and 16 February 2022 to almost certainly have involved the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU).

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan, said:

“The sustained build-up of Russian forces on Ukraine’s borders is deeply alarming. Labour is steadfast in our support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. It is Russia’s actions that are driving this dangerous escalation of tensions.

“But while Britain is right to step-up defensive military support to Ukraine, we must now strengthen our defences at home, including cyber security.

“Despite warning after warning, Government has presided over a decade of decline. It should not have taken an army threatening Ukraine to provide a wake-up call.

“Ministers must ensure UK cyber security has the support and resources it needs to remain resilient against external threats.”

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Portsmouth MP welcomes local Afghan families with ‘open arms’

Stephen Morgan MP welcomed local ARAP Afghan families evacuated during August’s Operation Pitting with ‘open arms’ today, during a welcome event held in the city.
The Portsmouth MP met with eight Afghan national families that fled Afghanistan in the summer under the government’s resettlement scheme and was able to thank them for their efforts in working with British personnel in Afghanistan.
Earlier this week in Parliament, the Shadow Armed Forces Minister met with 120 of the soldiers who served in Operation Pitting and thanked them for their efforts to the secure the safety of the 15,000 people evacuated from Afghanistan, including those now based in Portsmouth.
The city MP has been helping with the evacuation programme in responding to over 300 individual cases of those hoping to flee Afghanistan with the Home Office and other government departments.
He has also been working alongside veteran community organisation Ems4Afghans that is providing support to those families in bridging hotels across the country with clothes, toiletries, and other essential items.
The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, Stephen Morgan MP, said:

“I know from my engagement with our city’s existing Afghan community the challenges many families have faced being evacuated from Afghanistan and the harrowing stories of those loved ones left at home under Taliban control.
“It was a pleasure to finally be able to welcome families seeking sanctuary in Portsmouth, to thank them for their work in supporting the British armed forces and understand their hopes for the future as new constituents.
“Whilst this is a real demonstration of the strength of our community coming together to support each other, this may not be the same elsewhere.
“Many ARAP evacuees and their families now find themselves at the mercy of a postcode lottery of support and constrained by a cliff edge on their immigration status.   
“It’s vital now that Ministers deliver clear and consistent pathways for the support offered through Operation Warm Welcome if they are to keep the promises they have made to those who bravely supported our forces.”

Mr Morgan has been asking questions of Ministers over the handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan and has vowed to continue to lobby government on the delivery of Operation Warm Welcome and support those seeking sanctuary in Portsmouth.
In recent weeks, Portsmouth Labour launched a ‘Hug in the Bag’ project to give practical support to Afghan families settling in the city. To find out more about how to get involved, contact Portsmouth Labour via hello@portsmouthlabourparty.org.uk or sign up to updates through its website: https://www.portsmouthlabourparty.org.uk/meetings/
 
 

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Gurkha pensions: Government cannot continue to ‘sweep issue under the carpet’ – Portsmouth MP

Stephen Morgan MP has accused the government of sweeping the contentious issue of Gurkha pension equality under the carpet during a debate in Westminster this evening.

The issue of Gurkha pension equality is a longstanding and complex issue, but the Portsmouth MP and Shadow Armed Forces Minister urged the government to set out a way forward to address the problem.

In August, a group of Gurkha veterans were forced to go on hunger strike outside Downing Street following the government’s lack of engagement with their concerns.

The Shadow Minister visited campaigners during their 13-day hunger strike, having lobbied the Defence Secretary the previous day about the issue.

Leading a debate in Westminster Hall on behalf of the Official Opposition tonight, the Portsmouth representative demanded government set out its approach to the forthcoming bilateral committee meeting convened with Nepal to discuss Gurkha welfare issues.

He also called for the government to commit to publishing its response to its own consultation on the Gurkha Pension Scheme, which closed eight months ago, before the talks begin.

The MP has met with Gurkhas and campaigners on several occasions, including on Saturday with Labour councillors in Reading, which has a particularly high Gurkha population.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South and Shadow Armed Forces Minister, Stephen Morgan, said:

“This is a complex and longstanding issue, but that’s no excuse for the government’s lack of engagement in tackling the inequalities experienced by those who have fought to keep us safe.

“It cannot be right that those who have served our country have to live in such difficult circumstances, with the cost-of-living crisis set to make things only go from bad, to worse, this winter.

“At the very least Ministers must consider measures that ensure all Gurkha veterans have the opportunity to live securely in retirement. Labour will work cross-party to get this right, but Government needs to finally show long overdue leadership.

Ministers cannot continue to sweep this growing problem under the carpet.”

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City MP: Marking Remembrance this year

After last year’s remembrance services were scaled back due to Covid restrictions, Stephen Morgan MP was able to join communities across Portsmouth, on the centenary of the Royal British Legion, to honour and remember those who have sacrificed so much to keep others safe.

As he marked Remembrance Sunday at events across the city, Portsmouth South MP and Shadow Armed Forces Minister Stephen Morgan said:

“I am delighted that our city can come together once again to mark the service and sacrifice of our Armed Forces during this important time of Remembrance.

“Over the last year our Armed Forces have shown that they are indispensable to our nation’s security at home and abroad. From airlifting British Nationals out of Afghanistan to driving NHS ambulances in Wales, and deploying as part of the Carrier Strike Group’s maiden voyage from here in Portsmouth. 

“As we honour our service personnel in the heart and home of the Royal Navy, we renew our commitment to remember the fallen and do everything we can to support serving personnel, veterans and their families.”  
This year, Stephen visited the following groups and services:

November 10

Armistice Day – November 11

  • Guildhall Square Service – Guildhall Square
  • Visit to NMRN on Remembrance – Historic Dockyard

Remembrance Sunday – November 14

  • Royal Naval Association – Remembrance Service – Portsmouth Naval Memorial
  • Remembrance Sunday Service and Parade – Guildhall Square
  • Royal British Legion Remembrance Service – St Marys Church, Fratton