Jeremy Corbyn: I am not a pacifist and would send British troops into battle

Posted On: 
12th May 2017

Jeremy Corbyn will today insist he would be prepared to send British troops into battle as he tries to fend off Tory claims he is weak on defence and security.

Jeremy Corbyn has insisted he would be prepared to send British tropps into battle.
PA Images

In a landmark speech on foreign policy, the Labour leader – a lifelong opponent of nuclear weapons who has campaigned against numerous military interventions – will reject claims that he is a "pacifist".

But in a swipe at Theresa May, Mr Corbyn will say there will be "no more hand-holding with Donald Trump" if he wins the election, and that Britain's foreign policy would not be influenced by the US.

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Speaking at Chatham House in London, he will say: "If elected Prime Minister, I will do everything necessary to protect the safety and security of our people and our country.

"The best defence for Britain is a government actively engaged in seeking peaceful solutions to the world’s problems.

"But I am not a pacifist. I accept that military action, under international law and as a genuine last resort, is in some circumstances necessary. But that is very far from the kind of unilateral wars and interventions that have almost become routine in recent times."

Mr Corbyn will say that "waiting to see which way the wind blows in Washington isn’t strong leadership" and add: "Britain deserves better than simply outsourcing our country’s security and prosperity to the whims of the Trump White House.

"So no more hand-holding with Donald Trump – a Labour government will conduct a robust and independent foreign policy made in London.

"This is the fourth general election in a row to be held while Britain is at war and our armed forces are in action in the Middle East and beyond.

"The 'war on terror' which lies behind these interventions has failed. They have not increased our security at home – rather the opposite – and they have caused destabilisation and devastation abroad.

"The ‘bomb first, talk later’ approach to security has failed. To persist with it, as the Conservative government has made clear it is determined to do, is a recipe for increasing not reducing threats and insecurity."

But Armed Forces minister Mike Penning said: "Jeremy Corbyn has spent a lifetime trying to disarm Britain but now he's pretending he’s got what it takes to keep us safe.

"It’s nonsense – we know he wants to scrap Trident, abandon our allies and would rather talk to Daesh than strike its barbaric leader. We all want peace, but you can’t take tea with terrorists who order attacks on innocent civilians on our streets."