Minister praises efforts to support military veterans
Gavin Williamson has reaffirmed the government’s commitment to ensuring Plymouth and the wider South West continue to play a central role in the future of the UK’s armed forces, while taking a swipe at Jeremy Corbyn’s weak stance on defence.
The Defence Secretary spoke at a dinner in Plymouth last night attended by around 175 Conservative Party representatives, including MPs, councillors, officers and members.
Mr Williamson announced recently that all eight of the Royal Navy’s next-generation Type 26 frigates would be homed in Devonport, helping to secure its status as the largest naval base in western Europe.
He has also confirmed that amphibious assault ships HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark would be retained while 3 Commando Brigade of the Royal Marines would stay in Plymouth.
“Plymouth is synonymous with the armed forces and I’m determined to keep it that way,” Mr Williamson said.
“With threats increasing and becoming more complex worldwide, Plymouth will continue to play a central role in the defence of the UK by homing our next-generation Type 26 frigates.
“The defence sector is vital for the regional economy, employing thousands of people and supporting hundreds of local businesses.
“Indeed, the Ministry of Defence spends over £5billion in the South West – more than any other part of the country.”
Mr Williamson praised Plymouth’s “proud record of support for military veterans” and the efforts of local MP Johnny Mercer to bring the issue to prominence.
“Plymouth continues to be at the forefront when it comes to supporting veterans, including through the Armed Forces Covenant, the city’s innovative approach to housing and the Veterans Care Navigation Service, which provides a single point of contact for veterans seeking assistance,” he said.
“Johnny Mercer has led from the front and, working closely with the veteran community, local authorities, charities and the health and social care sector, is carrying through on his pledge to make Plymouth a centre of excellence for veterans care.”
Mr Williamson said the government would continue to meet the NATO commitment to spend at least 2% of GDP on defence and was putting in an additional £1.8billion over 2018/19 and 2019/20 to support the armed forces.
He also confirmed commitments to renew Trident and provide the best possible support for serving personnel, families and veterans.
“I’m very proud of the brave men and women who make up our world-class military, in the South West and beyond, and we must ensure they have the capabilities they need to keep us safe,” Mr Williamson said.
“That’s why we have the biggest defence budget in Europe and the second largest in NATO.
“On the other hand, Jeremy Corbyn and Labour would put the security of the country at risk.”
The dinner preceded the sell-out South West Conservative Conference in Plymouth today, attended by around 225 people.
- Priti Patel (former International Development Secretary)
- Johnny Mercer (Plymouth Moor View MP)
- Rebecca Smith (Parliamentary candidate for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport)
- Oliver Colvile (former Plymouth Sutton and Devonport MP)
- Alison Hernandez (Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner)
- Sarah Newton (Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work and MP for Truro and Falmouth)
- Peter Booth (South West Conservatives chairman, who lives on the Roseland Peninsula in Cornwall)
- Ashley Fox (South West MEP)
- Mark Weston (Parliamentary candidate for Bristol North West)
- Annabel Tall (Parliamentary candidate for Bath)