By David Hencke
David Hencke Blog – 15 June 2015
If it was a work of fiction about Parliament you would think I have lost the plot. But this year’s election for the Defence Committee has produced the strangest bedfellows. Jeremy Corbyn, feared Leftie Labour leadership contender, a darling with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and scourge of renewing Britain’s independent deterrent, has nominated the most right-wing Tory you could possibly find to chair the powerful Commons Defence Committee.
He is backer of Julian Lewis, a passionate defender of the Armed Forces and the greatest defender of spending billions on renewing Trident in Parliament. See his campaign link – he’s on a minesweeper to make his point.
I am told this extraordinary situation has arisen because Leftie Jeremy and Right-winger Julian share a joint passion that overrides their contrary views. Both of them want the issue of Trident properly debated in Parliament – one to destroy any reason for having it, the other to make sure the penny-pinching Tory government does not backtrack on spending money on it.
Both are, in their own different ways, anti-Establishment, and both believe in a thorough examination of the facts, and that a proper probe into the defence budget is essential; and they don’t trust more Establishment Tory or Labour MPs to do a thorough job.
And the amazing fact is that among Labour MPs Julian has also attracted support from the awkward squad. John McDonnell, another Labour Leftie who also supports abolishing Trident has backed him. So has Kevan Jones, a Shadow Defence Minister, well known for digging deep into any issue – even if he isn’t on the far Left of Labour.
Among independent non-Establishment Tories, Julian has the support of Dr Liam Fox, Sarah Wollaston and Charles Walker. Julian is standing against Richard Benyon and Bob Stewart. Full details on all the candidates are on the House of Commons Defence Committee website. Result on Wednesday.
Update [17 June 2015]: Julian Lewis beat off rivals Bob Stewart and Richard Benyon to chair the Defence Select Committee for the next five years. Final vote was Julian Lewis 314 and Richard Benyon 242 after Bob Stewart’s votes were redistributed.