Michael Fallon: Vladimir Putin would welcome a Jeremy Corbyn election victory
Russian president Vladimir Putin would welcome an election victory for “feeble” Jeremy Corbyn, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon claimed today.
The senior Conservative said Labour under Mr Corbyn had shown “gutlessness in response to Russian aggression” and argued the Kremlin would be eager to see the party in government.
Mr Corbyn is against renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent – although he has said he will not try to change Labour’s policy to reflect his views.
He has also personally wavered over the Nato target to spend 2% of GDP on defence and stopped short of confirming he would come to the assistance of a Nato member under attack.
During a visit to Estonia today to mark the deployment of 800 British troops to the Nato effort to reduce Russian influence in the Balkans, Mr Fallon ripped into the Labour leader.
“Russia will be watching Labour’s feebleness that Jeremy Corbyn has not supported this deployment. He has questioned it,” he told reporters ahead of the 8 June general election.
“He has not made clear how they would finance our 2% commitment to Nato and at every point he has voted against a stronger defence, including the renewal of Trident last July.
“Russia will be watching that, will have noted that feebleness and will be watching it throughout this campaign.”
Asked if Mr Putin would welcome a win for Mr Corbyn, he added: “Putin would certainly welcome feebler British defence…
“Any undermining of our deterrent or our commitment to 2% defence spending or any gutlessness in response to Russian aggression would certainly be welcome in Moscow.”
It is Labour policy to maintain the 2% spending on defence, following the party’s review of military policy last year.
“The safety and security of the British people must always be our first priority,” the document said.
“This can only be achieved by a defence and security policy which is strategic, informed by expert opinion and supported by a strong evidence base.”
In his bid to be re-elected Labour leader last year, Mr Corbyn said: “We will put conflict resolution and human rights at the heart of foreign policy, commit to working through the United Nations, end support for aggressive wars of intervention and back effective action to alleviate the refugee crisis.
“British foreign policy has long failed to be either truly independent or internationally co-operative, making the country less safe and reducing our diplomatic and moral authority.
“We will build human rights and social justice into trade policy, honour our international treaty obligations on nuclear disarmament and encourage others to do the same.”