Our national security

In recent weeks, the Government published the Strategic Defence and Security Review; a comprehensive plan to support our Armed Forces, counter-terrorism police and intelligence agencies.

The Ministry of Defence will spend £178 billion on equipment over the next ten years; an increase of £12 billion on previous plans.

The Defence budget will increase by 0.5% above inflation for the rest of this Parliament allowing this additional investment.

This funding also includes increasing the size of the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, as well as creating two new strike brigades with forces of up to 5,000 personnel each.

Additionally, in the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Autumn Statement, it was confirmed that the UK will meet its NATO commitment of spending 2 per cent of national income on defence, apart from the US the only other member to do so.

It would be wrong of me to discuss our national security without reflecting on last week’s House of Commons vote on extending UK air strikes against Daesh targets, already taking place in Iraq, to Syria.

I have written in the Crawley Observer before about my recent trip to Iraq, where I joined with Peshmerga forces on the front line against Daesh, as well as talking about my experiences in Parliament.

I met with families, communities and refugees receiving UK aid, who appreciate the support of RAF air cover in helping them to successfully counter the terror innocent women, children and religious minorities face in the Middle East.

Such decisions of course require Members of Parliament to put the national interest ahead of any party political issues.

The barbarism of Daesh cannot be reasoned with. UK action against them takes place in the form of specific, targeted attacks – not the deliberately indiscriminate attacks against civilians which is Daesh's trademark.

I was in the House of Commons during last week’s debate on extending the strikes. I respect the views of colleagues of all sides, and every MP I have spoken to agrees with how difficult a decision it was.

Contrary to what has been posted on social media, there was no cheering in the chamber when the result of the vote was announced. MPs from all sides recognised the gravity of the situation.

Since parliamentary approval was given last week, RAF Tornados using guided missiles have conducted strikes against six targets on an oilfield at Omar; one of the most important oilfields to Daesh’s financial operations which represents more than 10 per cent of their potential income.

The Defence Secretary recently welcomed Germany’s decision to step up its military contribution against Daesh – our two countries are joining the United States in standing together with France and others in the region like Jordan.

Daesh not only pose a threat to the UK, they also are the reality of the horror faced by people in Iraq and in Syria that has driven the refugee crisis.

British action is playing a part. UK capabilities currently gather 60 per cent of the international coalition’s tactical reconnaissance in Iraq, and 30 per cent of the intelligence in Syria.

Great Britain has a proud tradition of standing with our friends against tyranny – we can only do this with our commitment to defence – with many Crawley located employers involved – which can only be afforded by our growing economy.