National security is our first priority

The Commanding Officer of HMS Defender, Commander Steve Higham with the Chancellor of the Exchequer The Rt Hon George Osborne MP
The Commanding Officer of HMS Defender, Commander Steve Higham with the Chancellor of the Exchequer The Rt Hon George Osborne MP

HAYES IN THE HOUSE: By MP John Hayes

Britain recently marked the bicentenary of Waterloo, one of history’s greatest battles.

Britain is the 79th biggest country in the world, and the 22nd most populous, yet our armed forces continue to take a lead on the global stage, fighting our enemies overseas to protect our homeland’s peaceful way of life

Led by the Duke of Wellington, a true national hero, British forces defeated Napoleon Bonaparte’s French army, so ending his dictatorship’s grip on Europe.

The conclusion of the Napoleonic wars cemented Great Britain’s place as an imperial power, established a peaceful order in Europe and paved the way for a golden British period which, arguably, lasted until the outbreak of the First World War.

Wellington –who later became a Conservative Prime Minister – attributed victory at Waterloo to “the best of all instruments; British infantry.”

Though we recognise the skill and bravery of our soldiers then, now some appear to take for granted the role played by the armed forces in continuing to keep us safe.

Britain is the 79th biggest country in the world, and the 22nd most populous, yet our armed forces continue to take a lead on the global stage, fighting our enemies overseas to protect our homeland’s peaceful way of life.

Despite some necessary savings to get the economy under control, our defence budget remains the fifth largest of any nation and the second biggest in Nato.

The assumption that, because of reductions in public spending and doubts over how to measure success in modern conflicts, it is somehow inevitable that Britain must settle for a smaller role in the world is misplaced.

That’s why I was delighted that the Government recently committed to increase defence spending year on year, confirming that the Nato two per cent spending target will be met for the rest of the decade.

Over the next 10 years, we will spend £160 billion on new aircraft carriers, helicopters, armoured vehicles and joint strike fighters.

In these uncertain times, with evident threats from ISIS, other Islamist terrorists and Russian unpredictability growing, it is vital that Britain’s status as a leading player on the world stage is maintained.

National security will always remain the first priority of Government, and this increased defence spending is an investment in our long-term interests.

Our island nation has always outperformed expectations in the theatre of warfare; from Waterloo to defeating the Nazis.

We should be proud of our glorious history, confident that we will face the future with the same righteous determination.

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Budget rewards working hard