Politics

Boris Johnson: Military Saved My Political Career From Being ‘Snuffed Out’ In 2012

The Prime Minister thanked the military for its security role during the 2012 Olympic Games.

Watch: The Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks to an audience of service personnel during a reception at 10 Downing Street. A warning, there are some flashing images.

The Prime Minister has held a reception at Number 10 Downing Street for more than 50 service personnel.

Boris Johnson heard from servicemen and women about their experiences of serving their country on the frontline on Wednesday evening.

On Wednesday, he told those gathered at Number 10: “From the first day I became Prime Minister I have seen examples of the extraordinary commitment and courage shown by the men and women who defend our nation.

"I have absolutely no doubt wherever I've gone in the world, that people understand that UK Armed Forces represent the best of this country, the best of all four nations of this country, working together."

Carrie Symonds, partner of the Prime Minister (left), shows off their Jack Russell dog Dilyn to personnel.

“Ours was the first ship from any nation to arrive in the Bahamas with urgent supplies following Hurricane Dorian.

"We continue to pound Daesh from the skies over Iraq and eastern Syria through strike and surveillance missions.

"Our troops in Estonia are supporting NATO and warding off Russian aggression.

"Our nuclear submarines are continuously patrolling the seas, providing us with a nuclear deterrent every minute of every hour, as they have done for 50 years."

In thanking the military, the Prime Minister suggested his political career would have been "snuffed out", had the military not fulfilled a last-minute security role at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Mr Johnson also said a recent announcement confirming £2.2 billion for the Ministry of Defence will boost the defence budget to £41.5 billion and that the money will enable the armed forces to prioritise cyber, shipbuilding and the nuclear deterrent.

The event came before the Prime Minister is due to meet with military leaders on Thursday to discuss plans to modernise the Armed Forces.

Mr Johnson will host the Chief of Defence Staff, the heads of the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, the Vice Chief of Defence Staff, the Chief of Joint Forces Command and the Defence Secretary Ben Wallace in a meeting at Downing Street.

Speaking after the Downing Street reception on Wednesday, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: "I think a lot of people who aren't in the armed forces need to meet the men and women who make it such a special organisation and show our global leadership.

"When people understand what we deliver, which is stability, and security, to allow all those other services to be delivered, then they know that they've got to put their money where their mouth is, they've got to fund it.

"This Prime Minister has done exactly that this year, the Spending Review with the Chancellor has helped fund that for our people."

Watch: The Defence Secretary speaks to reporter Laura Makin-Isherwood outside Number 10.

"[The defence budget] always going to be the number one challenge for the department because we are a long-term department," Ben Wallace told Forces News.

"We buy ships that take 20 years to be delivered, we buy planes that take 20 years.

"All the time threat changes, and all the time we have Treasuries who don't think in 20-year periods, they think in five, 10 years we have elections and we have changes of circumstances.

"That means it's a constant battle really, to talk to people, to talk to the wider Government about what they're getting for their money, what we do with it, but also why we need to invest now so you don't actually have to spend even more money later.

"My duty to the men and women I met tonight is to give them an armed forces that's fit to fight, up-to-date, modern but also that our budget matches our ambition."

The Government recently announced an order for five new Type 31 frigates which will be built in the UK by Babcock, as well as the creation of a new Office for Veterans' Affairs with a dedicated minister and a £5 million budget and £7 million of funding for the Normandy Memorial Trust to complete their memorial overlooking Gold Beach in France.

The UK will host the next NATO leaders meeting on 4 December in Hertfordshire, in a year which marks the 70th anniversary of the alliance.

On Thursday, Mr Johnson will also visit an Army training ground in the south west of England, where he is expected to thank troops for their service.

Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffith MP criticised Boris Johnson for having a "loose relationship with the truth".

"His claim to support our military is deeply hypocritical when his party has cut the Armed Forces for nine years running," she said.

"All three services are short of personnel and morale is in freefall because of the Tories' short-sighted defence cuts.

"Too many personnel and their families are stuck in shoddy housing because of the Government's ideological obsession with outsourcing services to failing private sector companies."