Theresa May has become the new Prime Minister following the early curtailment of the Conservative Party leadership election. Andrea Leadsom MP, her rival in a projected ballot of Conservative members, pulled out of the leadership race two days prior to Mrs May’s appointment, saying that she lacked “sufficient support to lead a strong and stable government”, and the country needed a “well-supported” Prime Minister. Her supporters also cited “abuse” and criticism over the weekend as a contributing factor. Over the weekend, the Sunday Times reported that up to 20 moderate Conservatives were ready to quit the party if Ms Leadsom was successful in the contest.
Speaking outside 10 Downing Street after being appointed by the Queen, Mrs May said it would be her mission to “build a better Britain”. She promised to give people who were “just managing” and “working around the clock” more control over their lives. She also paid tribute to her predecessor, David Cameron, saying he had been a “great, modern prime minister”. Like Mr Cameron, Mrs May campaigned to remain in the EU but has said she will respect the will of the people, as expressed in the referendum, saying: “Brexit means Brexit”.
Whilst a supporter of the renewal of Trident, Theresa May’s broader views on defence policy are – like many other policy areas – broadly unknown. However, as the longest serving Home Secretary in over a century, she showed her willingness to confront not only the broad array of security challenges facing the UK, but also make decisions which made her unpopular with many under her jurisdiction – including the Home Office Police.
Following her appointment, Mrs May conducted a Cabinet reshuffle in which Defence Secretary Michal Fallon was of the few senior ministers to retain his position. Post-Brexit, there is a need for the UK to reassert its commitment to its international alliances, with NATO being of greatest importance, and stability at the MoD crucial to facilitate this. We await news of further ministerial appointments to the MoD.
Vote on renewal of Trident to take place on 18 July
The Guardian reports that the now former Prime Minister David Cameron has said that the vote on replacing four ageing Vanguard submarines will take place on Monday 18 July, just before Parliament rises for its summer recess. The timing of the vote will also be seen as an attempt to highlight Labour’s split on the issue, as Jeremy Corbyn is against maintaining the nuclear deterrent while most of his party is in favour. It has been announced by Shadow Defence Secretary Clive Lewis that, in the face of an inevitable large rebellion against Mr Corbyn’s anti-nuclear stance, Labour MPs will be given a free vote. Labour’s policy has in recent years been in favour of renewing Trident, as confirmed by its party conference. However, that stance was put under review by Mr Corbyn, who appointed Emily Thornberry, who was the Shadow Defence Secretary and is now the Shadow Foreign Secretary, to look into the policy. Reports suggest that Labour’s defence review will ultimately leave open the option of retaining the UK’s nuclear deterrent despite Mr Corbyn’s support for unilateral disarmament.
Speaking at a NATO summit in Warsaw prior to his replacement by Theresa May, Mr Cameron said: “Today, I can announce we will hold a parliamentary vote on 18 July to confirm Members of Parliament’s support for the renewal of four nuclear submarines capable of providing around-the-clock cover. The nuclear deterrent remains essential in my view, not just to Britain’s security but as our allies have acknowledged here today the overall security of the NATO alliance.”
As reported in last week’s monitoring Theresa May is a supporter of the renewal of Trident, and called for a pre-recess vote on the issue prior to becoming Prime Minister. The vote was overwhelmingly in support of the Trident Replacement Program.
No contingency plans to remove Trident from Scotland, Government insists
The Scotsman reports that the UK government has signalled that it has not drawn up contingency plans to move Trident out of Scotland in the event of a Yes vote in a second independence referendum. According to Philip Dunne, the minister in charge of defence procurement under David Cameron, the UK government remains “fully committed” to Faslane, the base on the Clyde where the system is based. Mr Dunne made his comments ahead of next week’s Trident vote in the House of Commons that will see the SNP underline its commitment to getting rid of the weapon from Scotland. Nicola Sturgeon has said a second independence referendum is “highly likely” following a Brexit vote, which saw Scotland vote to remain but the UK as a whole vote to leave.
Even if a decision were taken to remove Trident from Scotland, a lengthy period would be required to duplicate a supporting infrastructure at another location in the UK, at a cost of billions of pounds.
US Generals voice support for UK Trident programme
The Times reports that MPs are being urged to vote in favour of replacing Britain’s four nuclear-armed submarines in a letter signed by more than 20 former top American defence officials. The signatories to the letter, who include six former commanders of US Strategic Command and a mixture of senior officials appointed by Democratic and Republican presidents, said it was vital for western security that Britain retained a nuclear deterrent. “Our own experience for over 50 years makes clear that ballistic missile submarines remain the cornerstone of a nuclear deterrent,” say the officials, including Admiral Henry Chiles, General Kevin Chilton, General C Robert Kehler, Admiral James Ellis and Admiral Richard Mies. They added, “the combined deterrent forces of the US and UK make the horrific possibility of nuclear conflict considerably less likely. This is why every US Administration from both parties since 1958 has valued the UK’s independent deterrent, and we urge the UK to continue its vital contribution to transatlantic security.”
MDP Policing Plan published
The MoD has published the MDP’s policing plan for 2016/17. This plan sets out the operational and organisational priorities for the MDP, as agreed with the Ministry of Defence Police Committee. The strategic priorities for 2016/17 are identified as:
· Effective Operational Service Delivery
· Developing and Improving the Force
· Integration of Infrastructure policing in the UK
· An Efficient, Effective and Engaged workforce
· Demonstrating Value for Money
The document serves to highlight the unique capabilities offered by the MDP, and outlines the recent introduction of the new MDP policing model, organisational development, the potential for MDP integration with wider infrastructure policing, and improving overall performance. Outlining his vision for the organisation, Chief Constable Alf Hitchcock highlighted that there will be “some tough decisions about the level of service to be provided by the MDP during the coming year.” This can be seen as a reference to the threat of cuts to the MDP workforce in the aftermath of the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review, and the as yet unknown outcome of the Infrastructure Policing Review.
Terrorist attack kills dozens in Nice
The Daily Telegraph reports that Prime Minister Theresa May has called an emergency meeting of the Cobra Committee to review security in London following a terrorist attack in the French city of Nice. At least 84 people have died, including children, after a lorry slammed through a crowd celebrating Bastille Day. The driver ploughed on for over a mile along the Promenade des Anglais before being shot dead by police. Police reportedly found guns and grenades inside the lorry. Speaking ahead of a visit to Scotland, the Prime Minister said: “I have asked my deputy national security adviser to chair a Cobra meeting of senior officials to review what we know and what we can do to help and I will speak to President Hollande today and make clear that the United Kingdom stands shoulder to shoulder with France today as we have done so often in the past.”
Sadiq Khan, the London Mayor, said he would be “reviewing our own safety measures'' in light of the attack in Nice. Sources said the review was likely to look at policing and security arrangements for major public events in the capital.
MoD orders 9 P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft for RAF
BBC News reports that the UK government has signed an agreement to buy nine new maritime patrol planes from Boeing in a decade-long deal worth £3bn. The MoD’s deal for the submarine-hunting P-8A Poseidon aircraft also covers training, maintenance and support. Boeing will build a new £100m facility for the planes at RAF Lossiemouth in Moray. Now former Prime Minister David Cameron announced the P-8A deal on Monday at the start of the Farnborough Airshow. He said it showed that the UK was open for business despite the referendum vote to leave the EU. The P-8A planes will fill a gap in the UK's defence capabilities that has existed since 2010 when the Nimrod was retired.
MoD orders 50 Apache attack helicopters for Army
Jane’s 360 reports that the British Army has purchased a new fleet of Apache attack helicopters from Boeing. In total, the UK is buying 50 AH-64E Apache Guardian helicopters at an announced cost of £1.75bn. These will replace the 66 AgustaWestland-Boeing WAH-64D Block I Apache Longbow helicopters currently operated by the Army Air Corps. Unlike the WAH-64Ds, which were built in Yeovil by Westland (now Leonardo Helicopters) and heavily customised to British specifications, the new AH-64Es are being purchased off-the-shelf and will be built by Boeing in the United States. The purchase is being made under the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) system.
MPs report strongly criticises service accommodation provisions
The Guardian reports that housing for Britain’s Armed Forces is so bad that families often have to live without such basics as heating and hot water, according to a scathing report by a cross-party committee of senior MPs. The MoD and private contractor CarillionAmey are “badly letting down service families” and the failure to carry out repairs “may be driving some highly trained personnel to leave the military, wasting the investment made in them”, it says. CarillionAmey won multimillion-pound contracts for maintaining about 50,000 housing units, because it was the lowest bidder. The MoD said it had been able to retain only £10m of the £115m paid to the company to date and it was “looking at options for penalising CarillionAmey further”, according to the report. The MoD will decide this summer whether to terminate CarillionAmey’s contract.