Angela Rayner is a threat to European security

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner
Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner

It has become trite to say that the world is now more dangerous than it has been since the end of the Cold War – or perhaps even the end of the Second World War. Trite but true.

This morning’s Telegraph reported the warning of Jens Stoltenberg, Nato’s Secretary General, on the nature of the growing threat we face. He highlighted the scale of China’s growing nuclear arsenal and the perils of facing two nuclear powered potential adversaries: China and Russia. Russia has reportedly been carrying out drills on the use of tactical nuclear weapons. To counter these threats, Nato is considering deploying more nuclear weapons. Nato, Mr. Stoltenberg says, must display its nuclear might to deter our adversaries.

How would an incoming Labour government in the UK respond?

Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, voted against the renewal of Trident in 2016 and recently said that she hasn’t changed her mind about nuclear weapons. And we know from recent events just how much influence she would exert. When Keir Starmer was dithering over whether Diane Abbott should be a Labour candidate it was Angela Rayner who bounced him into a decision he seemingly didn’t want to make.

And it is not as though Angela Rayner was alone in voting against Trident. She was joined by David Lammy, who would presumably be foreign secretary in a Labour government, as well as several other members of the shadow cabinet.

We have been here before. I am old enough to remember the iron resolve of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan in pushing through the installation of cruise missiles in Europe against violent opposition from the spiritual ancestors of the current shadow cabinet. Yet it is now generally accepted that the deployment of these missiles was instrumental in convincing the leaders of the Soviet Union that they could not win the Cold War and, in time, led to the fall of the Iron Curtain.

But opposition to nuclear weapons is not the only way in which Labour would weaken our defence. Keir Starmer is committed to entering an EU security agreement which would pose great risks to our national security. This could mean tightly binding our defence industry into rules created by Brussels, effectively subordinating UK defence policy.

Many in the EU have long favoured a European defence capability, separate from, and duplicating, Nato. France, which has often been in the forefront of these plans, continues to refuse to place its nuclear capability available to Nato. Such an arrangement has the potential to severely weaken the defence of the West as a whole. It could be very dangerous.

And, in addition to all this, we know that when Labour says it wants to reach the 2.5 per cent target on defence spending, to which the Conservatives are firmly committed, “ as soon as resources allow”m that pledge is not worth the paper it’s written on.

For all these reasons the safety of our country is at risk in this election.

I know that many people are tempted to cast a protest vote. But this is not a council by-election. The votes at this election will determine the future of our country for the next five years. If we don’t want to take risks with our security we must vote for the only party which can form a government that would do all it can to keep us safe.