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UK ‘not as resilient as it should be’ after lack of war action plan revealed

The UK is not “as resilient as it should be”, the Labour Party has warned, after Sky News found the government has no national plan for the defence of the country.

It comes after a Sky News report also found there was no national plan for the mobilisation of people and industry if war were to occur.

Ministers have warned that Britain is moving to a “pre-war world” with concern growing about Russia, China and Iran.

But this has not been accompanied by a Cold War-style plan.

Read more: Is the UK preparing for war amid threats of conflict?

Darren Jones, Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, told Sky News the UK is “not resilient enough to global shocks, whether that is war, climate or pandemics”.

He said: “For too long we’ve not had strong enough supply chains to bolster our ability to withstand those events, and as a consequence of that, people suffer the consequences around inflation and things like energy bills and the cost of living.

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“We do agree with you from the Labour Party’s perspective that the UK is not as resilient as it should be, and that measures should be taken.”

He said the Labour Party wants to review defence spending, but can’t do so in opposition as it does not have all the information.

“It’s very clear the way in which the defence budget is being spent… needs to be better,” he said.

Read more from Sky News:
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Is the UK ready for a future war?

Elisabeth Braw, who is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, told Sky News the revelations from defence and security editor Deborah Haynes were “not surprising”.

She added that while the Armed Forces have done their job “very well”, there has been “little attention paid to the other parts of society that have to be part of any defence efforts in case of a war”.

This, Ms Braw said, was shown by COVID.

“It was clearly not an act of war,” she said. “But we saw the UK be woefully underprepared – or unprepared – for this kind of crisis, and wider society having no idea what to do.

“And we will face the same situation in case of an armed conflict, because there hasn’t been any preparation.”

Dr Patricia Lewis, who heads up the international security programme at the Chatham House thinktank, said it has been more than a decade since a national plan was shown to parliament’s defence committee – although she did caveat this with the fact planning may have continued in the background.

She said rectifying this has likely already started – but funding could be an issue.

“One of the important things, I think, is to think about what capability we have now which is truly operational, what is kind of good enough to be deployed and really focus on that… and have the capacity to ramp up manufacturing,” Dr Lewis said.

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Questions remain over when the government will raise defence spending to 2.5% from 2% of GDP, having only committed to do so “as soon as economic conditions allow” – despite pressure from ministers and backbenchers to go further.

In response to Sky’s original article, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence said: “We have a range of plans in place to secure and defend the country, which are reviewed and adapted in response to international security developments.

“These plans will be integrated as part of our contribution to ongoing work to develop a cross-government National Defence Plan, which will further enhance our preparedness and strengthen our deterrence for the future.”

Sky News Source