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Shadow Armed Forces Minister demands new naval support ships are built in British shipyards

Stephen Morgan MP has slammed defence ministers for ‘selling Britain short’ during five years of delay over vital new naval support ships. The Portsmouth South representative is pressing for a new ‘Built in Britain’ test for defence and security spending.

In the lead up to a major Defence and Security Review (Integrated Review), the Government is reportedly considering tendering the contract for The Fleet Solid Support Ship programme, worth up to £1.5 billion, to foreign companies. Placing the bid with UK yards would secure the future of shipbuilding in the UK. Research by Oxford Economics has found that for every £1 million spent in UK manufacturing there is a further £1.5 million benefit for the wider economy. For every job created in manufacturing a further 1.8 jobs are created in the wider economy – an argument that Mr Morgan has been making for some time as seen in the Defence Journal.

Shadow Armed Forces Minister, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“Building British not only helps us maintain our sovereign capability and strengthens national security, it sustains jobs and could be the winning ticket for safeguarding the future of our shipbuilders for years to come.

I know from speaking to British companies that they are ready and willing to build in the UK, the question is, why are Ministers selling Britain short and forcing two British bidders to pitch against foreign firms?

I will continue to work as Shadow Armed Forces Minister to put pressure on Ministers to back Britain and ensure their ill-thought out strategy does not hinder sovereign capability, national security and the future of British defence industry.”

For national security reasons, Royal Navy warships can only be built in the UK but because the supply ships will be part of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, they are not classed as warships. The fact Government has not committed to building these ships in Britain has caused concern in the Shadow Defence team, prompting the launch of the Built in Britain test – a set of criteria that seeks to develop the UK’s future capacity to build in Britain.

Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary, John Healey MP said:

“For five years, Defence ministers have dithered over this decision when it’s a no-brainer to build these vital new ships in Britain. They are selling Britain short by not putting the work into UK shipyards. No other major military nation has ordered naval support ships from foreign yards.

“What can be built in Britain now, must be built in Britain. And long-term defence and security procurement, must also involve plans to develop the UK’s future capacity to build in Britain. This is one test by which we will judge the Government’s new Integrated Review of defence and security.”

Following the announcement, Labour have launched an online petition – Tell the Prime Minister: Royal Navy ships should be built in Britain.

Sign here: https://action.labour.org.uk/page/s/royalnavyships

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“The world must not forget their untold sacrifice” says Shadow Armed Forces Minister on 75th anniversary of VJ Day

Stephen Morgan MP calls for participation in commemorative events marking Victory over Japan Day (VJ Day), a national moment of remembrance that pays tribute to those that fought in the pacific conflict and brought WW2 to a close.

The city MP and defence frontbencher is urging Portsmouth people to get involved with the programme of activities being pioneered by The Royal British Legion and the social media campaign run by Labour Friends of Forces. A Two Minute Silence, an interactive story sharing map, and a special tribute for commonwealth troops are some ways people can get involved.

Shadow Armed Forces Minister, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“The significance of VJ Day must not be underestimated and the sacrifice of those who fought in the pacific theatre must not forgotten. In a city like ours, with such a close connection to our forces community, it is important we lead by example when it comes to commemorations.

The conflict led to the ultimate end of World War Two, can be traced as the source of much of the multiculturalism we are fortunate to have in this country and is a shining example of our tri-services immense bravery.

In years by-gone, VJ Day has not received the recognition it deserves. I urge people to get involved safely with the campaigns run by The Legion and Labour Friends of the Forces so we can all ensure this momentous event receives due remembrance.”

Activity on the day will begin with a national Two Minute Silence at 11am on 15th August which will be the focal point of the commemorative service at the National Memorial Arboretum and will be led by His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. Public involvement has been stripped back due to the Covid-19 crisis which has driven up creative opportunities to get involved.

People can join in VJ Day commemorations by:

        Tweeting out their personal or family stories by using the hashtag: #VJDay75tributes set up by Labour Friends of the Forces

        Share their stories via The Royal British Legion website’s interactive story telling map

        Taking part in a two-minute silence

Mr Morgan has also joined calls for particular recognition to be given to Commonwealth veterans . Troops came from Europe, Africa, Asia, North America and Australasia to form one of the most multicultural forces in history, many of whom faced some of the harshest conditions of the Second World War.

On Commonwealth forces, Mr Morgan added:

“Those serving in the British Forces, and who helped secure Victory over Japan, came from a range of backgrounds and cultures.

This is nationally significant because we must celebrate this story of coming together but also because it helps us understand our nation’s current multi-cultural make up and complex past.

With division and hate crime a significant issue in our modern society, it is important we recognise and reflect on our nation’s proud and diverse history.”

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City MP responds to The Times report on Aquind and Russian interference

Following the publication of the intelligence and security committee’s report this week, concerns about the growth of Russian influence in British political and public life have increased.

Potential links between Aquind Interconnector, a large national infrastructure project running through Portsmouth, and a Russian tycoon have prompted further questions. Investigative reports carried out by The Times has revealed that large sums of money have been paid by Aquind to the Conservative party.

Responding to The Times story, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“This week the ISC reminded us that the Government failed to properly investigate Russian interference in our democratic process, and then tried to hide it. Unless these threats are dealt with, aggression will rise.

Now, we learn that hefty sums of money have been paid to the Tories by a Russian linked firm delivering a major UK infrastructure project effecting my city.

Alarm bells have been ringing for some time over the Aquind proposals. With the company exempt from some corruption rules, links to the ex-Chief of Russia’s state-owned arms company and hefty donations, this smacks of impropriety.

There are questions that need to be answered by the Conservatives in the interest of transparency. I will not stand idly by while foreign interests attempt to erode our democracy and national security.”

The full Times article can be seen here: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/name-russian-tycoon-behind-power-company-say-top-tories-0vqb0vw8g

 

 

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Shadow Armed Forces Minister hosts ‘Labour Listens’ event for forces communities across region

Shadow Armed Forces Minister, Stephen Morgan MP this evening hosted the Shadow Defence Secretary for a virtual roundtable for communities across the south east.

Giving people with a forces interest a chance to relay their concerns to the senior frontbenchers, the event is part of a UK-wide programme of discussions led by Labour’s shadow defence team.

The purpose is to link those in the forces and forces communities along with their families directly with Labour’s decision-makers, reaffirming the party’s stance as four-square behind our troops.

Stephen Morgan, Shadow Armed Forces Minister said:

“In Portsmouth it is impossible to miss the immeasurable value of our troops, whether it’s helping set up test centres to combat Covid or patrolling our waters to keep us safe.

To ensure we are delivering for them, we’ve got to understand the hopes and aspirations of the Armed Forces community, as well as the problems they face after a decade of declining numbers, morale and pay.

“We also want to talk about the pride we share in the excellence and professionalism of Britain’s service men and women, feelings I know many Portsmouth people share.”

The event falls in line with announcements made by the Labour leader on (27 June) Armed Forces Day, that Labour is open and listening to the forces community and must take onboard their views and concerns to win back trust.

John Healey, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Defence

“I want to open up Labour again to our Armed Forces, their families and veterans across our country.

“Today’s event is part of an exciting new dialogue with forces communities. We want to say thank you to our Armed Forces for the role they play both at home and abroad. We will make sure we listen and learn from them.

“As Britain faces a period of greater global risk and conflict, I want Labour to hear their voices and views, and I want them to play a bigger part in our Party.”

 

 

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“Government cannot play fast and loose with our national security” says city MP

Today, during Cabinet Office questions in the House of Commons, Stephen Morgan MP joined others, including the former Prime Minister Theresa May and security experts, in holding the Government to account over parachuting their own appointees into positions key to maintaining national security.

The Portsmouth South MP’s question demanded answers to why the Prime Minister decided to replace Sir Mark Sedwill as National Security Adviser (NSA) with a political appointee, whose task is to provide impartial advice to Government on difficult, and at times life-threatening, issues.

The action comes at a time when Tory MP Julian Lewis has had the whip removed for standing against fellow Conservative MP Chris Grayling for the important position of Intelligence and Security Committee chair.

Stephen Morgan MP said:

“When it comes to appointing people to positions vital to national security, the basis must be merit and experience not political gain.

Widespread concern has been raised by former national security advisers and other public figures following Mr Johnson’s appointment for this important role, including strong criticism from former Prime Minister Theresa May.

We cannot allow this Government to erode Civil Service impartiality to promote its own self-interests. This sets a dangerous precedent and doesn’t serve the interests of British people”.

A former cabinet secretary warned that political appointees were “more likely to be yes men” while leading military, security and diplomatic figures have condemned the decision as “appalling and unnecessary”. General Sir Richard Barrons, former chief of Joint Forces Command in Afghanistan suggested “it is a move for ‘chumocracy’” and “when it comes to matters of security, his knowledge is zero, and that is a matter of concern.”

The city MP’s action today comes in the wake of another breaking news story that has drawn fire on government, this time for eroding the impartiality of the Intelligence and Security Committee. Government had tried to promote the ex-Transport Secretary Chris Grayling MP, but had plans scuppered at the last moment by committee members working together to stop the Downing Street nominee.

Mr Morgan added:

The Prime Minister’s strategy of parachuting an inexperienced and ill-equipped candidate into the role of Intelligence Committee Chair was thwarted by his own veteran MPs. The Government simply cannot play fast and loose with our national security.

Transparency, meritocracy and effectiveness are what the public deserve from their representatives especially when considering our nation’s safety. I will continue to stand up for these values, which I know the British people hold close.”

 

 

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Shadow Armed Forces Minister demands Government’s plans for overseas troop safety

New Shadow Armed Forces Minister speaks up for troops and their families over Covid-19 cases from despatch box during defence questions today

Probing Ministers over any support offered to overseas troops and the figures relating to personnel infection rates, Stephen Morgan MP today demanded contingency planning from Ministers setting out how they would support personnel and their families stationed in areas likely to see outbreaks of Covid-19.

The Shadow Armed Forces Minister said:

Our troops have rightly continued their duties overseas for the duration of this pandemic, keeping our citizens safe and helping to maintain international peace.

With personnel operating in countries such as Iraq, where there has been a spike in Covid-19 deaths and where there is a lack of infrastructure capable of effectively managing the pandemic, we need to see firm contingency plans that prioritise troop safety.

That is why today I put pressure on Ministers to outline their plans to protect troops along with their families while they serve our nation abroad. They are continuing to deliver for the nation. It is important government delivers for them.”

The city MP’s action over overseas troop Covid-19 data comes on the same day that government has abandoned its commitment to a daily figure for the number of people in the UK who have been tested for the virus.

Today’s action holding Minister to account over troop welfare is part of a wider piece of work being conducted by the Shadow Armed Forces Minister, and the Shadow Defence team.

Already Labour’s Defence teams’ efforts helped lead to the testing of all 800 crew on board HMS Queen Elizabeth following 2 confirmed Covid cases, lobbying efforts have been carried out to allow families of service people more comprehensive support networks, and work is being conducted to shine a light on dwindling morale and satisfaction.

Stephen Morgan MP added:

“Whether considering the efforts of our forces community at home helping combat Covid-19 or personnel continuing to protect national security overseas, the fact remains that our troops are of great value to our society.

With the Tories downgrading defence over the last 10 years with shrinking numbers, reduced capability and offering unfair pay, it is vital that opposition ask the tough questions that have our troops interests in mind.

The Shadow Defence team will continue to take action on the concerns of our forces community and work as the checks and balances to government decision making that for too long has neglected our troops interests.”

 

 

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Keir Starmer throws weight behind ‘reinvigorated’ Labour Friends of Forces on Armed Forces Day

Marking the 14th anniversary of Labour introduced Armed Forces Day and against the backdrop of a decade of Tory failure to invest in defence, Labour’s leadership has today supported the relaunch of a renewed Labour Friends of Forces (LFF), a key priority for city MP, Stephen Morgan.

With a new offer to members, fresh mission statement and support from the Labour leader, LFF has set out how exactly it will create an effective forum for bolstering the party’s connection with the force’s community and winning back the public’s faith Labour’s stance on defence.

Shadow Armed Forces Minister, Stephen Morgan MP said:

“While the challenges faced by our nation continue to change through the ages, one thing remains the same – the immeasurable value of our troops.

Labour stands four-square behind our Armed Forces, their families and our veterans. But we have to be in listening mode. To win back the trust of the public and that of our troops, we need to ensure we are open and engaging with the communities we are seeking to serve.

With the new programme of events, offer to members and support of the leadership, this idea of listening will be at the core of everything Labour Friends of the Forces stands for.”

This year’s Armed Forces Day comes against a backdrop of Tory defence failure. Troop pay increases have been delayed for a second year running, for the fourth consecutive year the Ombudsman has found a vastly under-performing complaints system, and satisfaction along with morale has been declining for a decade as the armed forces continuous attitudes survey has revealed.

And, the current administration is not just failing the troops themselves. A decade of crude Tory defence cuts has left the Army alone falling 8,000 personnel short of the Government’s own targets.

Labour Friends of the Forces has announced a renewed offer to its members including direct line to frontbench Shadow Defence team; a programme of events spanning every region across the UK; cut-rate membership and access to a group of other individuals interested in defence.

The mission statement of LFF is to build the party’s relationship with serving personnel, veterans and their families; nurture and identify future candidates from a military background; improve the party’s understanding of issues effecting the service community; and create a forum for training, discussion and development for the group’s membership.

Keir Starmer, Leader of the Labour Party, said:

“I am proud of my country and proud of those who serve it. I want to open up Labour again to our Armed Forces, their families and veterans across our country.

Today’s event marks the start of an exciting new dialogue with forces communities with an ambitious new Labour Friends of the Forces scheme.

As we celebrate Armed Forces Day, I say thank you to our forces communities for the role they play both at home and abroad. I will make sure we listen to you and learn from you.”

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Why Keir Starmer’s backing of a reinvigorated Labour Friends of the Forces is more important than ever

Shadow Armed Forces Minister Stephen Morgan MP, along with current LFF Chair Toby Perkins, outline the group’s bold new offer and why it is so important ahead of Armed Forces Day on 27 June.

Labour has a long history of standing four-square behind our armed forces personnel. From Clement Attlee’s frontline involvement in the Gallipoli campaign to Major Denis Healey’s ‘good war’ which culminated in him being the beach master at Anzio in 1944, the party’s military heritage is as rich as it is varied.

Our recognition that to become the party of the armed forces we must work harder to welcome those who have served, was a driving force behind the formation of the Labour Friends of the Forces and saw Major Dan Jarvis become a Labour MP in 2011.

Labour Governments have spent a greater proportion of GDP on defence but this hasn’t always cut through on the doorstep, and the party’s standing on defence has been weakened in recent years. This means that just 14% of voters think Labour is the best party on defence issues and only 28% of our heartland voters believe Labour would protect the UK from global threats. If Labour wants to win back credibility on this crucial issue, it’s a long journey to rebuild trust, by being united and putting protecting the public first.

Our new party leader recognises the challenges ahead and has said the first way to rebuild trust is to listen to people.

As we approach Armed Forces Day, we are delighted to lay another marker in the sand – the relaunch of Labour Friends of the Forces (LFF), and with it a bold package of commitments that will help the party listen and rebuild ties with those who have served and their families.

Armed Forces Day on 27 June, the brainchild of the last Labour government, is a celebration of our troops’ intrinsic value and ordinarily sees the presentation of medals to personnel along with commemorative activities.

This year, announced by the Leader of the Opposition and with his full support, Labour Friends of the Forces is proudly making renewed commitments to serve the forces community and setting out the means by which it aims to achieve this goal. A timetable of 8 events in just 10 months spanning every region in the UK, cut rate membership for forces affiliated personnel, a direct channel of communication to Labour’s defence frontbench and access to the continents’ leading defence minds form a bold new offer to LFF supporters.

Accompanying the groups’ new offer to its members is a reinvigorated set of objectives. A will to build the party’s relationship with serving personnel, veterans and their families; nurture and identify future candidates from a military background; improve the party’s understanding of issues effecting the service community; and create a forum for training, discussion and development for the group’s membership. The fact the leadership has thrown its full, weight behind these ambitious aims only adds to the significance of the group’s ambitious new plans.

But why is it so important for Labour to show leadership on Armed Forces Day? Because government is failing to do so. Troop pay increases have been delayed for a second year running, for the fourth consecutive year the Ombudsman has found a vastly underperforming complaints system, and satisfaction along with morale has been declining for a decade as the armed forces continuous attitudes survey has revealed. And, the current administration is not just failing the troops themselves. A decade of crude Tory defence cuts has left the Army alone falling 8,000 personnel short of the Government’s own targets.

These factors alongside statistics revealing that between 2010 and 2015, Britain’s defence budget fell by £8 billion, with no real confirmation of when this will step up again, demonstrates this government’s lack of commitment to our service personnel. Adding insult to injury is that fact that all this is going on against the backdrop of our troops playing such a vital role in combatting Covid-19.

Our armed forces deserve so much more than dwindling troop numbers, incessant cuts to the defence budget and a decade of failure in addressing lagging morale. Labour knows this, and through the Labour Friends of the Forces, seeks to provide a forum to listen and for tackling these issues head on.

Against the backdrop of Covid-19, where our armed forces continue to go above and beyond in delivering for the nation, it is important that political parties deliver for them. A decade of Tory defence decline presents an opportunity for Labour to return as the party to stand up for our troops once again.

This Armed Forces Day, with the support of our new leader, we are delighted to announce a reinvigorated group rooted in our service communities, for our service communities – Labour Friends of the Forces.

 

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Shadow Armed Forces Minister, Stephen Morgan MP on the importance of recognising our troops on Armed Forces Day

First introduced by the last Labour Government, Armed Forces Day is an opportunity to pay tribute to the men and women who deliver for the nation.

A day for celebration rather than remembrance, it is as important as ever to recognise the pride we have in the excellence and professionalism of our service men and women. Just as our Armed Forces work to keep us all safe and our country secure, we must do all we can to support them.

While the challenges faced by our communities continue to change, one thing has remained steadfast – our reliance on our forces and their families when times get tough. Historically they have guided us through the darkest hours in our country’s history. Now, amid this pandemic, they are helping keep the nation going by providing vital PPE, supporting frontline services and setting up test centres across the UK.

While it is right that today is about paying tribute to the efforts of our troops, we would be doing them a significant disservice if we did not speak out on the issues affecting them most.

Ten years of cuts to the defence budget, troop pay increases delayed for a second year running, a fourth year of the Ombudsman finding a vastly under performing complaints system, while satisfaction along with morale has been declining for a decade as the forces attitudes survey has revealed. It is high time our troops treatment matched the degree to which we rely on them, and the high standards they hold themselves to.

So, this Armed Forces Day, despite the celebrations being curtailed due to Covid, we must all do our bit to recognise the efforts of our service community. Against the backdrop of the public health emergency and economic crisis, where our armed forces continue to go above and beyond in delivering for us, it is important that we deliver for them.

As the Shadow Armed Forces Minister, I want to open up Labour again to our Armed Forces, their families and the veterans who have already served our country. I want Labour to hear their voices and views. We’ve got to understand where we’ve gone wrong in the past and change. We’ve got to understand the hopes and aspirations of the armed forces community, as well as the problems they face after a decade of declining numbers.

As an MP representing a city proud to be heart and home to the Royal Navy, and as Shadow Armed Forces Minister, I will continue to ensure the Labour party is listening to the forces community and take action to speak out on the matters that affect them most.

Stephen Morgan MP

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Recognising the immeasurable value of our reserves is as important as ever” – Shadow Armed Forces Minister on Reserves Day

Making up around a sixth of our armed forces capability, forming 100 national units across the tri-services and recruiting from all over the UK, our reserve forces are a powerful part in Britain’s military capability.

While at the peak in 2004, reservists made up 20% of those serving in Iraq and 12% of those in Afghanistan. These are often-unsung heroes who walk among us have been involved in crucial conflicts from across the globe. They continue to give up their spare time to keep our nation safe.

From medical expertise to unsurpassed cyber security capability, reservists make up some of the most able people in our armed forces. While we are aware of their involvement in major theatres of war, it is important to recognise too their contributions to civil society.

The ruthless nature of the Covid-19 pandemic has revealed their immeasurable value. Over 3,000 armed forces reservists have been called up to aid the military response to the coronavirus pandemic, providing support to the Covid Support Force by helping set up test sites and assisting in the delivery of PPE.

Looking back, reserves stepping in at the nation’s time of need is nothing new. We know that 2,100 reserve personnel provided support to the police and other civil authorities throughout Operation Olympics. This meant that during the 2012 London Olympic Games, they made up around 15% of the armed forces personnel working on the delivery of the Games. When Britain is on the backfoot, our reserves never fail stand up to be counted.

As we find ourselves in midst of Armed Forces Week and today on Reserves Day, I pay tribute to these brave men and women who continue to deliver for the nation.

As Shadow Armed Forces Minister, I know I speak for many within the nation when I extend my gratitude for their continued efforts in these challenging times.

Stephen Morgan MP is the Shadow Armed Forces Minister and Portsmouth South MP