The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition)

Corbyn ‘no pacifist’ as he vows foreign policy shift

Labour leader opens up on defence and says he will ‘reshape’ relations with US

- GareTh Mcpherson poliTical reporTer gmcpherson@thecourier.co.uk

Jeremy Corbyn denied he was a pacifist as he vowed to end the “bomb first, talk later” approach to security from the Conservati­ves.

The Labour leader pledged a major shift in foreign policy to “reshape” relations with the US, while reviewing the RAF campaigns in Syria and Iraq.

Outlining his defence strategy in London, the former chairman of the Stop the War Coalition said Labour would do “everything necessary” to protect the country, but said it backs a “no first use” policy on nuclear weapons.

Mr Corbyn’s commitment to Trident renewal was again called into question, when he said the nuclear deterrent would be included in a strategic defence review if he won the June 8 election.

Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, said Mr Corbyn is “a guy who has campaigned all his life to weaken the UK’s defences”.

Mr Corbyn accused Theresa May of “pandering” to Donald Trump as he promised “no hand holding” with the US President during a speech to Chatham House.

“The best defence for Britain is a government actively engaged in seeking peaceful solutions to the world’s problems. But I am not a pacifist,” he said.

“I accept that military action, under internatio­nal law and as a genuine last resort, is in some circumstan­ces necessary.

“But that is very far from the kind of unilateral wars and interventi­ons that have almost become routine in recent times.”

Meanwhile, the Scottish Conservati­ves were campaignin­g on defence in Moray on Thursday, where they hope to unseat the SNP depute leader Angus Robertson.

Douglas Ross, the Tory candidate in the North East constituen­cy, laid into SNP figures for previously suggesting that if Scotland became independen­t, they would “start from scratch” with a new “bespoke” independen­t Scottish defence policy.

“The fact is that the Conservati­ves are the only party at this election who will back our military wholeheart­edly and secure the thousands of jobs here in Scotland that rely on defence spending,” Mr Ross said.

“We will always put Britain’s national security front and centre.”

Angus Robertson said: “This is rank hypocrisy from the Tory Party who have decimated defence spending in Scotland – slashing bases, personnel and investment, ending the Nimrod programme, and cutting our maritime patrol capability. No one will believe these cynical election bribes.

“The biggest threat to our military facilities is the Tories, who have driven down personnel numbers to a historic low, and the proposed base closures announced by the Tory Government in November will see a 20% reduction to the defence estate in Scotland, the end of the Royal Navy’s presence in Fife, and the near total removal of the army from large parts of Scotland.”

Earlier, Willie Rennie, the Scottish Liberal Democrats leader, was at an Inverkeith­ing scrapyard.

He said: “The Liberal Democrats are clear that we want to scrap the SNP’s independen­ce referendum.

“The news this week that Scottish education standards on literacy and numeracy have dropped right back shows why it is important.”

 ?? Picture: PA. ?? Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn during his speech about security at Chatham House in London.
Picture: PA. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn during his speech about security at Chatham House in London.

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