Keir Starmer Pledges National Security and Defence Boost Ahead of Election

British opposition leader Keir Starmer promised to enhance the country's national security and nuclear deterrent, positioning Labour as the 'party of national security'. With defence being critical due to conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza, Starmer aims to reassure voters of Labour's capability to keep the nation safe.

Reuters | Updated: 03-06-2024 15:48 IST | Created: 03-06-2024 15:48 IST
Keir Starmer Pledges National Security and Defence Boost Ahead of Election
Keir Starmer

British opposition leader Keir Starmer pledged on Monday to secure the country's armed forces and nuclear deterrent, trying to reassure voters before an election that the nation would be safe in the hands of a Labour government. Describing Labour as the "party of national security", Starmer turned his campaign focus to defence, seen as a weak spot for Britain's main opposition party under his predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn, a long-time supporter of nuclear disarmament.

With conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza, defence is taking centre stage before the July 4 election. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said last month that only his Conservative Party could keep voters safe in an increasingly dangerous world. Standing in front of 14 former military Labour candidates, Starmer told an audience: "The people of Britain need to know that their leaders will keep them safe - and we will."

"This Labour Party is totally committed to the security of our nation, to our armed forces and, importantly, to our nuclear deterrent." He made a commitment to a so-called "nuclear deterrent triple lock" - constructing four new nuclear submarines, maintaining a continuous at-sea deterrent and the delivery of all future upgrades needed for those submarines.

Even though Labour is far ahead in the polls, officials say they still need to convince thousands of undecided voters to back what Starmer repeatedly calls a "changed party", one which can be trusted on defence, health and tackling immigration. The Conservatives believe they have a stronger defence offering, with a pledge to increase defence spending to 2.5% of GDP a year by 2030 - a target Labour says it wants to match "as soon as possible".

The Labour leader was again asked about his party's stance on the Gaza conflict, after Labour has struggled to hold on to the support of some Muslim voters in local elections. "The best thing ... for everybody concerned is to press for that ceasefire immediately, straightaway," he said. "That has been our position for weeks and weeks and weeks and months."

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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