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Sir Keir Starmer says national security ‘comes first’ as he makes pitch to Tory voters | Politics News

Sir Keir Starmer will put defence and national security at the heart of Labour’s election pitch to voters during a visit to the North West on Monday.

Sir Keir will pledge Labour as the “party of national security” as he meets forces veterans and candidates.

He will also reaffirm the party’s commitment to the so-called “nuclear deterrent triple lock”, which includes a commitment to construct the four new nuclear submarines in Barrow-in-Furness.

The Labour leader will also repeat his ambition to increase defence spending to 2.5% of gross domestic product (GDP) – a target Rishi Sunak has said he wants to meet by 2030 – when economic conditions allow.

As well as the commitment to build four new submarines, under the “triple lock” Labour is also promising to maintain Britain’s continuous at-sea deterrent and deliver all future upgrades needed for the submarines to patrol the waters.

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The Vanguard-class submarines are due to be replaced by the bigger Dreadnought-class submarines in the 2030s, with between £31bn and £41bn set aside for the upgrade, according to the House of Commons Library.

Sir Keir’s focus on defence is part of a wider strategy to convince voters that the party has changed from the days of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

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The Conservatives have consistently pointed out that the current Labour leader served in Mr Corbyn’s shadow cabinet when he held critical stances towards NATO and the nuclear deterrent Trident.

As part of the bid to reassure voters, Sir Keir has chosen 14 ex-military personnel to stand for the party at the election.

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Sir Keir said: “National security will always come first in the changed Labour Party I lead.

“Keeping our country safe is the bedrock of stability that the British people rightly expect from their government.

“My message to them is clear: Labour has changed. No longer the party of protest, Labour is the party of national security.

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“The excellent former service personnel that are standing as Labour candidates are a testament to that change.”

Grant Shapps, the defence secretary, said 12 current members of Sir Keir’s top team – including his deputy Angela Rayner and shadow foreign secretary David Lammy – previously voted against Trident.

“We know Rayner is now making the decisions in Labour, so Starmer’s supposed backing for Trident is meaningless,” he claimed.

“Labour’s refusal to commit to 2.5% defence spending by 2030 shows that they are a danger to our national security. Uncertain times call for a clear plan and bold action to chart a course to a secure future, only the Conservatives offer that.”

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