Ukraine-Russia: Sir Keir Starmer calls for Parliament to 'look again' at defence spending and defence strategy
His comments came as shadow Scottish Secretary Ian Murray called for more funding amid “increasing” Russian threats.
Asked if he supports increasing defence spending, Sir Keir said: “Yeah, I do think the Government’s going to have to come back to Parliament and look again at defence spending, and I know many Conservative MPs think that as well.
“I’d also say the Government at the moment is proposing to cut a further 10,000 or so from our armed services and I think they’re wrong to do that and I would call on them not to do it.
“But obviously I think there is now a clamour for the Government to come back to Parliament and to look again at defence spending and the defence strategy, frankly.”
Asked if he supports increasing the share of national income spent on defence, Sir Keir said: “Well, I think the Government needs to come back … we need to look at what they put before us and then we’ll take a view on it.”
The Labour leader also insisted his party supports the provision of military equipment to Ukraine, but called on the Government to “go further on things like sanctions”.
He explained: “We support the provision of more military equipment to Ukraine and, whatever the ups and downs of local elections, whatever the timing of this particular announcement, I think, for all of those suffering in Ukraine, they need to see political parties in the UK standing together in support of Ukraine.
“It’s interesting it’s two days before the local elections, but when I think of the images coming out of Ukraine, bombing of maternity hospitals, I don’t think our arguments about the timing cut much ice.
“On the substance, we support the provision of military equipment and I’ve been clear on that, and we’ve had intelligence briefing from the Government and I think the in-principle position of all political parties that we stand up for Ukraine, stand with Ukraine, stand against Russian aggression is very important.
“I do want the Government to go further on things like sanctions, I think they need to go further and faster, and the refugee situation needs to be sorted out much, much more quickly, but in principle there is that unity.”
His calls were backed by Mr Murray, who said the crisis in Ukraine showed the need for more investment in defence.
He said: “A dozen of our European allies have rebooted defence plans in response to [Vladimir] Putin’s illegal and brutal of Ukraine.
"But ministers are pushing ahead with a £1.7 billion cut to day to day MoD [Ministry of Defence] spending, which means less money for forces pay, recruitment and families.
“With Russian threats increasing, the Government must review defence spending, rewrite the integrated review, reform defence procurement and rethink Army cuts.”
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