Sheffield Forgemasters to be Nationalised by UK Government
At last, common sense has prevailed and the hugely important but long troubled Sheffield Forgemasters – a company that is a vital supplier of specialist steel for Royal Navy ships and submarines plus other important aspects of military capability is to be taken over by the UK Government under a flag of this being vital to our national interests and the UK supply chain.
Afghanistan Interpreters Deserve Our Support
It is absolutely right in my view that a group of former UK military chiefs who happen to now sit in the House of Lords – together with one former Defence Minister in the form of Plymouth MP Johnny Mercer – should choose to write a letter to the Prime Minister emphasising grave concern in relation to hundreds of interpreters used by the MOD in Afghanistan who, with their families, now wish to reside in the UK because they fear for their future safety. They supported the MOD and our allies when they were needed – they took great risks for us in the face of the Taliban insurgency. They deserve our support so why is it that so many have had their applications rejected by the Home Office?.
The MoD shas previously confirmed that it is already supporting more than 2,200 former Afghan staff and their families in order that they can resettle here in the UK. I have no idea what the numbers of those that would like to come to the UK and that have had their applications so far rejected but, just as I was when the MOD had chosen to turn its back on the Gurkhas and that led to a brilliant and in the end, successful campaign led by actress Joanna Lumley, so it is that the MOD and the Government are not getting the message that those who are potentially laying down their lives to support our deployed military personnel in theatre so it is that we must support them in their hour of need.
Those who have signed the letter include four former chiefs of the defence staff, Lord Boyce, Lord Stirrup, Lord Richards and Lord Houghton; two former heads of the British Army, Lord Wall and Lord Dannatt; Lord Ricketts, the former national security advisor, and as previously mentioned, the former Minister for Veterans, Johnny Mercer and who I might add, as a former soldier had served Helmand, Afghanistan.
The strongly worded letter made plain that “Too many of our former interpreters have unnecessarily and unreasonably been rejected” and “we strongly urge that the policy is reviewed again immediately, to ensure more are given sanctuary. If any of our former interpreters are murdered by the Taliban in the wake of our withdrawal, the dishonour would lay squarely at our nation’s feet”.
Time for Boris Johnson to act and do what is right.
I listened to Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace delivering what was a short, well-written speech by his aides from the Painted Hall in Greenwich this morning during which he presented another round of detail in relation to the proposed ‘National Flagship’.
I am not against the idea of a national flagship particularly now that the rather silly notion of this being a replacement royal yacht has now been sunk without trace. I do however dislike the idea of specific MOD funding being used for the build of the vessel – particularly when I know that even with supposedly billions being added to the defence budget the reality is that the MOD is all but broke and to that end is delaying and pushing back expenditure programmes as fast as it possibly can. Bottom line is that while I am sure that the Prime Minister and Secretary of State are right when they suggest that the vessel will play an important role in regard of trade, this is and should be a vessel that is funded through the Foreign Office and Department of International Trade. Clearly the Royal Navy will have an important role as will other branches of the armed forces. Presence is important and our Government gets the message although it has yet to convince me that it understands the importance of government to government deals.
Detail – The government envisages that the vessel will travel to ports all over the world and particularly those in which prime ministerial visit will take place in order that it can be used to host parallel talks between political leaders, British and local businesses and also trade fairs in which sales of British products could be increased and new markets opened. There is however, no suggestion that the ship could also double as a hospital ship – something I personally consider very remiss.
The vessel which, as previously mentioned, is being procured by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), is likely to also play a role in UK foreign policy and security interests by providing the venue for summits and other diplomatic talks.
In last week’s contract notice the MoD said that it wanted the design of the vessel to be a “tangible manifestation of British ingenuity and shipbuilding expertise” and that it should reflect “British design expertise and the latest innovations in green technology”. Companies wishing to bid have until 12 August to respond to what is described as a pre-qualification questionnaire and which the MOD will use to invite suppliers to tender for the job. Secretary of State for Defence said this morning that he wished to make an announcement on the first part of the procurement process (this involves an international two-stage design competition in which the winning design will form the basis of the invitations to negotiate that will be sent out to firms or consortiums intending to bid for the ultimate build contract.
Due to launch in 2024, crewed by the Royal Navy and with a planned in-service life of 30 years, the current budget estimate for the ship is £150 million.
Another Gem From Anthony Peters
“No wonder the EU finds bullying the UK so easy and irresistible. Students of English law will all remember Mr Justice, later Lord Alfred Denning’s landmark case of High Trees House in which he ruled that a promissory estoppel can be used as a shield but not a sword. The UK and the EU are presently at odds as to whether the Withdrawal Agreement should be used as the one or the other. Brussels seems to believe that if that is what was agreed and signed off, that is what must happen. The UK, a country without a written, believes it to be a document which should offer guidance but which must be constantly revised and adapted as parts of it which worked in theory are demonstrably failing to do so in practice. This kingdom with its strange ways has stood for a thousand years and even with the odd hiatus – England was after all a revolutionary republic from 1649 to 1660, just over 150 years before France copied the model – it has as such a long and reasonably successful history. “Yoorop”, on the other hand, can trace its roots all the way back to, err, 1957”.
CHW (London – 28th July 2021)
Howard Wheeldon FRAeS
Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd,
M: +44 7710 779785