CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

FOREIGN AFFAIRS – NATIONAL SECURITY AND RUSSIA – 26 March 2018

[Stephen Gethins: ... In these times, we should be investing in our security infrastructure and in our relationship with our European partners. Let us look at the rebuilding of Bosnia: it has taken 25 years, and it is an ongoing project. If we look at security and areas where we have taken our eye off the ball – let us look at Libya, where we took our eye off the ball – we see that no amount of nuclear weapons will protect us and add to security in those areas. However, investment in the long-term security of our partners, not least in the western Balkans and the former Soviet sphere, is something we should be committed to. I acknowledge that that is something that Members on both sides of the House are committed to as well.]

Dr Julian Lewis: I agree with the hon. Gentleman that now is not the time or place to renew the old debate about nuclear weapons, particularly as the issue has been settled by a vote in this House, but can we not agree on a cross-party basis with the proposition that 2% spent on defence is not enough?

[Stephen Gethins: What I will say to the right hon. Gentleman – this is why this debate is important – is that £160 billion, at a time when GDP is due to go down the plughole, is money we can ill afford. [Interruption.] “Says who?” says an hon. Member from the Treasury ​Bench. Says your own Government figures. Remarkable! Courageous indeed from the Government Front Bench, but I respectfully disagree. That £160 billion is money that could be better spent on security and on securing our eastern borders.]

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Dr Lewis: With all these diplomats expelled, we will have to keep a much closer eye on Russia than ever before. Will my right hon. Friend therefore spend £25 million a year to save the BBC Monitoring Service?

[The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Boris Johnson): We will be doing more to tackle disinformation in all sorts of ways, including by making sure that we monitor the output of the Russians properly. We will be hardening our defences, as my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Vicky Ford) rightly recommended. We will be going after the money, as the hon. Member for Rhondda, the right hon. Member for Exeter and many others recommended. As my right hon. Friend the Member for New Forest East (Dr Lewis) has said, we are unconditionally committed to the defence of our Baltic friends and, yes, we will continue to spend more than any other major European country on defence. Tomorrow all that work goes on, but tonight we mark what I hope will be a watershed moment and a turning point when after all the lies, all the clouds of deceit and all the deployment of Russia’s wearying and sarcastic intercontinental ballistic whoppers – after all the outrage and the provocation that we have had from it – the countries of the world have come together, in numbers far greater than Putin can possibly have imagined, to say that enough is enough.]

[For Julian's speech in this debate click here.]