A date has been set for MPs to vote on Theresa May’s Brexit agreement with political commentators forecasting a heavy defeat. This has created a new political conversation around what should happen in the event of a no deal Brexit. This week the Commons backed an amendment requiring the Government to give a statement of intent setting out the next steps three days after a defeat, instead of the current 21-day limit, and also supported an amendment curtailing the powers of the Treasury to collect and spend money should the UK leave the EU with no deal without the explicit permission of MPs.
Meanwhile Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn has said that, in the event that the Government is defeated on the Brexit vote, Labour will table a motion of no confidence in the Government as part of its demands for an early General Election. The Labour Party argues that this is the only way to break the deadlock over Brexit. The vote for Theresa May’s negotiated deal with the EU is scheduled for Tuesday 15 January.
- MoD publishes Modernising Defence Programme
- Government increase police funding
- Home Secretary demands improvements in policing
- MoD assets championed this month
- MDP in the news this month
- Number of MoD Police diverted to Trump visit revealed
- MDP Assistant Chief Constable to retires
- MDP officer climbs Everest to highlight mental health crisis put on emergency services workers
MoD publishes Modernising Defence Programme
After months of delay and internal government disagreements, the Government has published its Modernising Defence Programme. The most significant announcement in the Programme is the ringfencing of £160 million of the MoD’s new funding for innovative new military capability, with the potential for this figure to be increased to £340 million at the Spending Review in the spring. Other than this the Programme has very little substance to it.
Regarding the DPF’s policy asks, the Programme states: “(The Government will) Contribute to the resilience of the UK by supporting civil contingency operations and the protection of Defence’s critical national infrastructure and cyber space”. In Gavin Williamson’s foreword to the Programme, he says: “In the immediate term we will be investing to counter growing threats to the security of our nuclear deterrent, improving our ability to protect our critical national infrastructure, and working with other departments and agencies to strengthen our defensive and offensive cyber capabilities.”
The 28-page strategy includes a review of the MoD’s progress in delivering the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review, noting that the Royal Navy has increased its mass and presence on this work; that steps have been taken to forward base the Army; that innovation has continued in the RAF, cyber and space; and that the UK has continued to reinforce its position as a leading voice in NATO and European security. The Programme highlights the threat of increased terrorism, extremism and instability; the resurgence of state-based threats; the impact of technology and the “erosion of the rules-based international order”. It then commits to “mobilise, modernise, transform”.
As we expected the Modernising Defence Programme is a fudge failing to provide significant new policies and commitments. Far from providing a revamp to the MoD the Programme will bring little change to the department going forward with the most significant announcement in recent months being the funding increase given to the MoD in the Budget at the end of October.
Government increase police funding
Police in England and Wales are to receive an “up to £970 million” funding increase, the largest rise since 2010, Policing Minister Nick Hurd has announced. This funding will come from three revenues: £161 million will come from the Home Office, bringing the total police budget to £7.8 billion next year; £153 million will be used to plug a shortfall in funding caused by changes to pension contributions; and the remaining money will come from Police and Crime Commisioners being able to increase the policing element of council tax. Should all forces increase council tax to the maximum they can, police will get the £970 million lauded by Home Secretary Sajid Javid. This builds on the Chancellor’s pledge in the Autumn Statement to increase funding for counter-terrorism by £59 million to £816 million.
Javid has said that the settlement “will enable the police to recruit more officers and be better placed to respond to the increasingly complex crimes they face”. Hurd said that the settlement will “ensure forces recruit, meet local priorities and continue to improve efficiency to free up resources for the front line”.
The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners Lead of Funding, Roger Hirst, welcomed the extra funding, claiming it would help forces across the country deal with cost pressures from inflation and pensions, and invest in technology.
The Police Federation said making the public pay more for policing is ‘blatantly unfair’, and accused the government of “passing the buck” of funding to local communities. Supporting this, Labour's shadow policing minister Louise Haigh said the settlement represented a ninth consecutive year of real-terms cuts to the police by central government.
Home Secretary demands improvements in policing
Home Secretary Sajid Javid has written in the Daily Telegraph demanding the Government’s funding increase for the police “must be matched by improvements in policing led by the police themselves”. The Government funding increase for policing (detailed above) has been criticised for largely being paid for by local councils increasing their taxes.
Javid said that he wants to see forces improving their efficiency and collaborative working as well as their use of technology. He said that “My priority is public safety and I will continue to give the police the support they need to protect us all.” The Home Secretary added that the funding increase shows that he had “listened and kept to every promise” he had made to the police since taking on the role of Home Secretary in April 2018.
Meanwhile Labour have argued that the funding increase would not make up for the eight years of funding cuts made to the police force, and the London Mayor Sadiq Kahn called the funding “a tiny fraction of the huge government cuts to the Met police since 2010 and will mean the number of police officers in London will continue to fall over the years ahead”.
MoD assets championed this month
The Timeshas reported on the companies submitting tenders to build the Royal Navy’s next generation of frigates, the Type 13e, which are to cost no more than £250 million each. The contractors bidding are BAE Systems, Babcock and Atlas Elektronik, described as “a Dorset-based, German-owned marine engineer that is the former naval technology unit of BAE.” It is already a contractor on Britain’s submarine fleet.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has announced that Scarborough, which is to host the national Armed Forces Day in 2020, will also be the affiliated town of HMS Duncan. HMS Duncan is a Type-45 destroyer that came into the Navy’s service in 2010.
The MoD has signed a £250 million deal for Shadow, a highly capable intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft bought to boost the RAF’s intelligence-gathering, which will support 450 jobs.
Babcock’s Rosyth dockyard in Scotland has been awarded a contract to carry out HMS Queen Elizabeth’s first planned dry-dock maintenance, Defence Minister Stuart Andrew has announced. HMS Queen Elizabeth is the UK’s largest warship weighting 65,000 tonnes, and the contract for its maintenance will cost £5 million and support 100 jobs.
Elsewhere Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has unveiled the capabilities of the RAF’s new Tornado and F-35 fighter jets, as reported in the Daily Telegraph. When making the announcement, Williamson said the new capability “means don’t mess with us, because we have the capability and we have the people, and we have the will to always defend ourselves.”
MDP in the news this month
MDP officers diverted to Trump visit revealed
The Mirrorhas revealed the strain placed on police resources to cater for US President Trump’s visit to the UK. Trump’s trip cost £18 million over four days. 28 forces responded to the paper’s FOI requests out of 45 who were asked on the matter, and revealed that 1,754 officers were committed in full to the trip, despite none of the forces answering being based where the visit took place.In addition to this , 141 MDP officers as well as 1,089 British Transport Police were committed. Devon and Cornwall Police, a stretched police force covering the widest geographical area in the country based 200 miles from the visit, sent 74 officers.
Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott said that this was “a huge drain on resources, which have been cut to the bone over years of Tory cuts” and the need for so many police “reflects the huge unpopularity of Donald Trump across the country”.
MDP Assistant Chief Constable to retire
The MoD has announced the retirement of Assistant Chief Constable Paul McLaughlin of the MDP. ACC McLaughlin has served in the force for over 34 years, starting on the beat and rising to the following positions: police coxswain, Sergeant, Inspector, Chief Inspector, Head of International Policing and Secondments, Superintendent as Head of Learning and Development, Head of Operational Capability Centre, Chief Superintendent, and finally Assistant Chief Constable. McLaughlin said he was “really happy” with the choices he made, and the “fond memories” he has created. Chief Constable Andy Adams commended McLaughlin for his “exemplary” and “outstanding” work.
MDP officer climbs Everest to highlight the mental health crisis among emergency services workers
Jamie Ironmonger, an MDP officer stationed at Portsmouth Naval Base, has committed to climb the world’s highest peak, Mouth Everest, to raise awareness of the pressures and negative experiences faced by emergency service workers and the strain that puts on mental health. He noted some of the difficult situations emergency service workers face on a daily basis and the struggle involved in having to “go home and act like everything is OK with your family”. Jamie is hoping to raise £10,000 for Mind the mental health charity, through the expedition.