PRIME MINISTER – SALISBURY POISONINGS AND DEFENCE – 14 March 2018
Dr Julian Lewis: No reasonable person can possibly doubt that the Russian Government have behaved with arrogance, inhumanity and contempt, not least in failing to respond to the Prime Minister’s deadline, which they surely would have done if they had known that they were innocent of this charge. In welcoming the Prime Minister’s expulsion of 23 diplomats who are really intelligence agents, may I ask her to make it clear that any retaliation in kind by the Russian Government will be met by further expulsions, perhaps including even of the Ambassador, who spends so much time coming to talk to us in this place, bemoaning the poor state of Anglo-Russian relations? Does she accept that Russia traditionally respects strength and despises weakness, and that the time has come to recognise that 2% of GDP is not enough to spend on Defence when we are reverting to the sort of adversarial relationship that we had when we spent a much higher proportion of GDP on ensuring that this country was well defended?
[The Prime Minister: I thank my right hon. Friend for his remarks. In response to his first point, as I said in my statement, there are other measures that we stand ready to deploy at any time, should we face further Russian provocation. On his other point, as we review our National Security Capability and our Modernising Defence Programme, we are ensuring that we have the resources and capabilities available to deal with the variety and diversity of threats that this country faces. However, as those threats diversify, not all of them will be responded to by what is conventionally considered to be Defence.]