Labour defence review will look at Nato membership, says Ken Livingstone

Posted On: 
7th January 2016

Labour’s review into its defence policy will look at whether or not the UK should remain a member of Nato, party veteran Ken Livingstone has said.

The military alliance was formed in 1949 in the aftermath of World War II to agree collective defence in response to an attack by an external party.

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Mr Livingstone is to front Labour’s review into its defence policy alongside newly appointed Shadow Defence Secretary, Emily Thornberry.

Until now attention has focussed on the review's eventual position on Trident – with both chairs opposed to renewing the UK’s nuclear deterrent.

But Mr Livingstone today revealed the inquiry will encompass all aspects of Labour’s defence policies, including the arguments for and against remaining a member of Nato.

“That’s one of the things we will look at. There will be many people wanting to do that. I don’t think it’s a particularly big issue because in the Cold War it was; it isn’t now. Russia is not planning to invade the West,” he told the BBC’s Daily Politics.

When pressed on his own personal view, Mr Livingstone argued that the likelihood of Russia, or any other country, seeking to invade Nato countries was minimal.

In light of that the question of UK membership is irrelevant, he argued.

“My main view on this is it doesn’t really matter whether you’re in Nato or not, terribly much, because the Cold War is over,” he said.

He added: “If we are to stay in Nato the question is what’s its role going to be - invading more countries in the Middle East? I’m not in favour of that.”

The news sparked an immediate backlash from Labour MP Wes Streeting.

TRIDENT

Mr Livingstone said it was not set in stone that the defence review would recommend opposing the renewal of Trident.

But the former Mayor continued to question the merits of the nuclear deterrent, citing Argentina's invasion of the Falkland Islands in 1983 as an example of its inadequacy.

He also said America's nuclear arsenal is sufficient to detract countries from invading Western European states.

Mr Livingstone told the BBC that he hopes the party would have reached an agreement on its new position on Trident by the summer.