During the past month the UK has seen a change in Prime Minister, a major Cabinet reshuffle, the launch of a leadership challenge against Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn, and a parliamentary vote on the renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent.
Former Home Secretary Theresa May succeeded David Cameron as Prime Minister, barely a week after Mr Cameron announced his intention to resign following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. Mrs May swiftly announced a Cabinet reshuffle, the major news from which was the appointment of Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary and the sacking of former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, who was replaced by Philip Hammond. Amber Rudd was appointed Home Secretary.
The reshuffle saw minimal impact for the MDP and DPF, at least in terms of ministerial personnel, with both Michael Fallon and Mark Lancaster retaining their positions at the Ministry of Defence.
One of Mrs May’s first parliamentary appearances as Prime Minister was to lead the debate on the renewal of Trident, which took place days after her appointment. The House of Commons voted overwhelmingly in favour of renewing the deterrent, with a substantial number of Labour MPs (all of whom were given a free vote on the issue) defying their leader – and outspoken proponent of nuclear disarmament – Jeremy Corbyn.
Mr Corbyn has also found himself at the centre of a leadership challenge in the past month, when former Shadow Business Secretary Angela Eagle announced she would stand for the leadership, following longstanding dissatisfaction with Mr Corbyn from many Labour MPs. Labour’s National Executive Committee confirmed that Mr Corbyn would be automatically included on the ballot, with Ms Eagle subsequently standing aside and leaving former Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Owen Smith as the only challenger to the Labour leader.
Parliament has now risen for the summer recess, but the efforts of Mrs May to stamp her authority on government – and the impact of the Labour leadership election (although Mr Corbyn is a heavy favourite to retain his post) – will likely affect policy development and the makeup of the Shadow Cabinet over the summer.
Since the parliamentary vote on renewing Trident, the MoD has also been reported to be considering releasing £1 billion in funding to start the development of the new Vanguard submarines at the earliest opportunity.
During the last month, the Federation has been continuing to meet with and brief parliamentarians, while also taking forward briefing meetings with journalists. National Chairman Eamon Keating has also had an article published in Police Oracle, calling for greater clarity on the impact of the SDSR on the MDP.
The political approach
During the past month, the Federation has met with Patricia Gibson, the SNP Member of Parliament whose constituency includes DM Beith. We have also briefed a number of influential parliamentarians to highlight the importance of the MDP complements at MoD establishments within their constituencies.
These briefings have additionally provided opportunities to highlight the continued delay in the announcement of future security arrangements at MoD sites following the publication of the SDSR last November. From our most recent round of briefings, Ms Gibson has written to the Secretary of State for Defence regarding the MDP presence in her constituency, and encouraged the MoD to clarify its plans for security at the earliest possible opportunity.
With Parliament in recess for the next month – both Houses sitting briefly in September before rising again for the various party conferences – the DPF’s focus will be on corresponding with supporters in the House of Commons and House of Lords to highlight any urgent matters of concern.
We will also be making preparations for additional briefing meetings once Parliament has returned after the summer.
As noted above, during the past month DPF National Chairman Eamon Keating has penned a comment article for Police Oracle. The article can be accessed via the link below – although members without a login to the publication will need to register in order to access its full content.
The purpose of this article, published to coincide with the Cabinet reshuffle, is to underline the importance of the MDP in securing establishments and critical infrastructure – and also to highlight the lengthy delays in the MoD announcing its plans for future security provision and how this might affect the MDP.
As noted in the article, the delays are unconducive to effective security and future planning, while also creating substantial, unreasonable and unwelcome uncertainty.
We are also currently working to schedule a series of briefings with senior defence correspondents over the summer.
As noted previously, we would remind all officers that should they wish to contact their local MPs, any communication is subject to MDP regulations.