Vernon Coaker MP, Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary, speaking at the conclusion of the NATO summit in Wales, said:
Labour welcomes measures to strengthen the UK’s defence capabilities and the future contribution of British Service personnel to NATO.
The announcement that 1,000 UK troops will join a multinational rapid reaction force, alongside 3,500 taking part in future NATO exercises, is welcome. But it is ironic that it comes in the same week as a parliamentary committee criticised David Cameron for the catastrophic failure of his Armed Forces reforms, which have led to a worrying decline in the numbers of regular and reserve soldiers and the prospect that this will lead to a dangerous capability gap.
The UK is a proud maritime nation and the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carriers currently being assembled in Scotland will maintain our great British naval traditions, as well as our future defence and security. But David Cameron’s announcement that the second carrier is to be brought into service poses many questions, not least because the Government previously indicated that it had not worked out the cost implications and said that a decision on it could not be made until the Strategic Defence and Security Review in 2015.