Lymington Times – 2 March 2018
A New Forest MP has broken his silence after eight years to reveal why he missed out on promotion to the Government. In the run-up to the 2010 General Election when the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition came to power, Julian Lewis, of New Forest East, had been expecting a job, having been the Tories’ Shadow Navy Minister for about six years.
But he was overlooked for a position under the then Prime Minister David Cameron, and later refused to comment publicly about his lack of advancement. In contrast, New Forest West MP Sir Desmond Swayne became the Prime Minister’s Parliamentary Private Secretary in 2010, then a Whip, and finally a senior Minister for International Development in 2014 until he was sacked by Theresa May last year.
Dr Lewis is now Chair of the influential House of Commons Defence Committee and recalled his disappointment during a debate on Monday about Defence spending – which was cut by the coalition in 2010–11. Dr Lewis told MPs:
“I will not defend what happened in 2010. I was a Shadow Defence Minister for slightly longer that the duration of the Second World War in the years up to 2010, and I was told retrospectively that the reason I never became a real Defence Minister was that it was known that I would not go along with what they were planning to do.
“So I am not inclined to lay down my life for the Cameron/Lib-Dem coalition of those years. I did not do it then, and I will not do it now.”
During the debate, Dr Lewis criticised the Government for spending about 2% of GDP on Defence but said he sensed “a sea change” among MPs that could push it higher to protect military Services. He said:
“We need to change course, and the direction in which we have to go is towards a significant uplift to 3% of GDP to be spent on the defence of the United Kingdom.”