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Leaving the EU: Defence Policy

Volume 642: debated on Monday 11 June 2018

12. What discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the effect on his Department’s policies of the UK leaving the EU. (905753)

I hold regular discussions with my colleagues on this topic. Europe’s security is our security. We want to work closely with our European partners to keep our citizens safe and defend our shared interests and values, including through NATO and our future partnership with the European Union. Britain was committed to European security long before the creation of the European Union and our membership of it, and we will be committed to the security of continental Europe long after we leave.

I thank the Secretary of State for that answer—I think. What discussions has he had with the Scottish Government regarding the potential exclusion and uncertainty surrounding future UK participation in the Galileo project?

What we are seeing with the Galileo project is, frankly, the European Union acting in a most unusual and strange way. Why on earth would it wish to exclude Great Britain from a project that is so integral to the security of the whole of the European Union and many other countries? As Britain is currently the largest spender on defence in the European Union, we would have thought that it welcomed our involvement in the project and that it hoped that we would continue to support it, but if it does not want us, we can do this independently.

The UK Hydrographic Office, which makes most of the world’s shipping charts, is the only fundraising arm of the Ministry of Defence. It is based in Taunton, and I am pleased to say that the Ministry of Defence has retained it and is now investing in and helping to support a new state-of-the-art facility. Is this not exactly the kind of asset on which we should be building as we leave the EU to increase our prosperity and influence in the world?

I know my hon. Friend fought a major fight to ensure that the investment came to her constituency and to preserve this important asset. It is a brilliant example of how the Ministry of Defence and our armed forces can play an important role not just in supporting defence, but in creating prosperity and jobs.