MPs accuse Prime Minister over failings in national security strategy
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Tuesday 29 April 2014
David Cameron has been accused of putting Britain’s national security at risk by not ensuring the Government has proper contingency plans for national emergencies.
An all-party group of MPs and peers criticised the Prime Minister for telling them when they quizzed him in January that he believed in “planning on the basis of what you want to achieve.” They warned that the crisis in Ukraine and last winter’s floods in Britain showed the need for better long-term and strategic thinking in government.
In a report published today, the Joint Committee on National Security Strategy expressed concern that the absence of contingency plans is “dangerous and unwise.” It added: “An attitude if ‘no plan B’ is dangerous when national security is at stake.”
The MPs and peers said the new national security strategy due to be published after next year’s general election should consider energy security, climate change and acknowledge that the UK would have less clout on the global stage. Denying a loss of influence would be “wishful thinking rather than credible strategy,” they said.
Margaret Beckett, the Labour former Foreign Secretary who chairs the committee, said: “The Prime Minister has been helpful and candid with us about his approach to national security and vision for the UK’s future, but we think he is too focused on managing current events at the expense of looking ahead. Recent events at home and abroad are a salutary reminder of the value of thinking about threats to our national security in the widest sense and of keeping a close eye on what is over the horizon.”
Mrs Beckett added: “Worryingly, there is every sign that we are heading for another rushed job after the election and for a ‘motherhood and apple pie’ document that again avoids the big questions and is of little practical use in guiding government decision-making. That is not what this country needs at a time when resources are limited and we must focus on what is most important.”
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