Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Shadow cabinet backs me on nuclear weapons, says Starmer

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer and shadow defence secretary John Healey during a visit to the Fusilier Museum in Bury in Greater Manchester (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer and shadow defence secretary John Healey during a visit to the Fusilier Museum in Bury in Greater Manchester (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Sir Keir Starmer said he had the whole shadow cabinet behind him as he set out his commitment to Britain’s nuclear deterrent.

Kicking off the second full week of General Election campaigning with a focus on defence, the Labour leader said the deterrent was “the foundation of any plan to keep Britain safe”.

Sir Keir went on to announce a “triple lock” for the nuclear deterrent, including a commitment to delivering four new ballistic submarines, maintaining the continuous-at-sea deterrent and providing all the necessary upgrades for the boats to continue their patrols.

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer speaks to an audience of military veterans watched by shadow defence secretary John Healey during a visit to the Fusilier Museum in Bury in Greater Manchester
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer speaks to an audience of military veterans watched by shadow defence secretary John Healey during a visit to the Fusilier Museum in Bury, Greater Manchester (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Challenged on the views of some of his shadow cabinet members who had voted against renewing the Trident deterrent, including deputy leader Angela Rayner and shadow foreign secretary David Lammy, Sir Keir said: “I lead this party.

“I have changed this party. If we are privileged to come in to serve, I will be the prime minister of the United Kingdom and I’ve made my commitment to this absolutely clear and I’ve got my whole cabinet, shadow cabinet, behind me.”

Sir Keir gave his speech at the Fusilier Museum in Bury, Greater Manchester, flanked by 10 of Labour’s 14 new ex-military candidates, and reiterated his aim of spending 2.5% of GDP on defence while sticking to Labour’s fiscal rules.

Referring to his uncle’s service on HMS Antelope in the Falklands War, he said: “I know the courage, the service, and the sacrifice that allows us to sleep soundly at night from our forces and their families.

“I know it. I respect it. And I will serve it, with every decision.

“It is part of my story, and the reason why I said, from day one of my leadership, that the Labour Party had to change, change for a purpose, to respect your service, face the future in this dangerous world and above all, keep Britain safe.”

General Election campaign 2024
Sir Keir Starmer gave his speech to an audience of veterans flanked by 10 ex-military Labour candidates (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Among the candidates at the event on Monday were former Royal Marines officers Al Carns and Fred Thomas, and Louise Jones, who served with the Intelligence Corps.

Mr Carns, who received the Military Cross for his service in Afghanistan and was selected as a candidate in Birmingham Selly Oak only last week, said the number of veterans standing for Labour showed Sir Keir was serious about defence.

He told reporters: “Collectively, it’s worth noting, Labour has pulled in 100 years of military experience, which I think (is) really good.”

Sir Keir’s speech sought to draw a division between his leadership and that of Jeremy Corbyn, a long-standing opponent of the nuclear deterrent.

That message was reinforced by several ex-military candidates on Monday, who said they would not have stood for Labour under Mr Corbyn.

Gavin Williamson visit to HM Naval Base Clyde
Sir Keir Starmer said he was totally committed to Britain’s nuclear deterrent, in a clear break from his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn (James Glossop/The Times via PA)

Ms Jones, who introduced shadow defence secretary John Healey at Monday’s event, said there had been several good aspects to party policy, but that had been “negated by the values and standards fails that I was seeing”.

She added: “It doesn’t matter how good you are at delivering in all aspects of your job, if you have a values and standards fail that takes away your ability to lead.”

Mike Tapp, another Intelligence Corps veteran, told reporters: “I would not have stood under the last administration, it’s that clear. But under the current administration I’m really confident as a veteran that we can deliver for the country.”

Mr Thomas, who left the Marines in 2023 and is standing against veterans minister Johnny Mercer in Plymouth Moor View, said he was “so proud that Keir has changed the party”, adding he was “laser-focused as a leader”.

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer and shadow defence secretary, John Healey with some of the 14 former military parliamentary candidates Labour has selected to fight the General Election, during a visit to the Fusilier Museum in Bury in Greater Manchester
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer and shadow defence secretary John Healey with some of the 14 former military parliamentary candidates Labour has selected to fight the General Election (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The candidates also emphasised their decisions to stand had been motivated by a desire to continue serving their country.

Ms Jones said: “In the military, you’re taught to get involved, to not stay on the sidelines.

“We say the standard you walk past is the standard you accept. Well I’m not going to simply walk past while our national security is threatened. That’s why I’m standing to be Labour’s first female veteran MP.”

But Grant Shapps, the Defence Secretary, said Sir Keir’s speech was “empty” and criticised him for failing to commit to a timeline of 2030 for spending 2.5% of GDP on defence.

He said: “Starmer’s choice for foreign secretary, David Lammy, has described the UK’s nuclear deterrent as ‘senseless’. This rubbishes the claim that Labour have changed.

“It’s clear Starmer lacks the courage and conviction to stand up for Britain’s security.”