POINT OF ORDER – EU AND PUTIN – 21 March 2018
[Tom Brake: On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. In a parliamentary written answer on 12 January 2018 the Minister for the Armed Forces stated:
“The UK will remain completely committed to European defence and security after we leave the European Union”,
yet 48 hours ago it was announced that the UK is withdrawing from providing the battle group in 2019. Is there a way in which I can hold the Government to account on what appears to be a substantial policy change, which has not been announced in this place but has in fact been announced as a result of a leak to a newspaper?
Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Rosie Winterton): I thank the right hon. Gentleman for giving me notice that he planned to raise this matter, and I know that he has been vigorous in pursuing the issue through parliamentary questions. As he knows, there are many other routes that he can pursue, including, I am sure, forthcoming Government statements on, for example, the European Council, but his concern will have been heard on the Treasury Bench and I am sure it will be taken back to the Department concerned.]
Dr Julian Lewis: On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. While we are on the subject of the European Union and Defence, may I seek an assurance that Mr Speaker will not be emulating the example of the President of the European Commission, who has just sent a grovelling letter of congratulations to Vladimir Putin on his election victory, and that he will note instead how fortunate we are to be able to depend on NATO when the security and defence of this country is at stake?
[Madam Deputy Speaker: I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his point of order. I suspect that the Speaker will have very firm ideas, no doubt taking some advice from the right hon. Gentleman himself, about how he will respond to that election.]