Defence Secretary says using armed forces to 'protect British Isles' from migrant boats 'wouldn't be legal approach'

14 May 2024, 08:32

How can we defend against war when you can't even stop the boats? Defence Sec put on the spot

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Speaking to Defence Secretary Grant Shapps, Nick Ferrari challenged him over Rishi Sunak’s comments on global security and the world entering a more dangerous place than it has been in for years.

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“If you can’t actually defend our borders from small boats, why should we listen to the Prime Minister on defence?” Nick asked.

Mr Shapps replied that UK has been one of only two militaries in the world that has “actually been prepared to defend the freedom of navigation,” citing the example of the Red Sea and the defence against Houthis, and in shooting down Iranian missiles and drones.

Nick again pressed the Secretary of State on what would be done to protect the UK’s borders.

Praising the men and women of the military, he said “as much as some may like to see the armed forces defending the British Isles, that wouldn’t be a legal approach to tackling that problem.”

Mr Shapps said the Tory Party was seeking to “break the criminal activity that brings people across the channel in the 1st place by making it clear that if you're right in Britain illegally, then automatically your case is an illegal one. And we think that's by far and away the best way.”

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The Defence Secretary was speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast
The Defence Secretary was speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast. Picture: LBC

The comments come just 24 hours after Rishi Sunak said voters would face a choice between "the future and the past" at the general election as he insisted he was "confident" the Tories could defeat Sir Keir Starmer's Labour.

He sought to position himself as the best option to navigate a dangerous period in the nation's history.

In a speech in London, the Prime Minister set out the challenges posed by an "axis of authoritarian states" including Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

"At some point in the second half of this year, we will all go to the polls and make a choice, not just about Conservatives versus Labour, or Sunak versus Starmer.

"It will be a choice between the future and the past. Now I remain confident that my party can prevail, not because of our record alone, but because we will be the only party really talking about the future, and not with vague lofty platitudes but with bold ideas and a clear plan that can change our society for the better and restore people's confidence and pride in our country."

Rishi Sunak said there was a "profound sense of urgency" in the need to address the challenges facing the country.

"More will change in the next five years than the last 30," he said.

"I'm convinced that the next few years will be some of the most dangerous yet the most transformational that our country has ever known."

He warned "the dangers that threaten our country are real" and "they are increasing in number".

He said there is war in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

And he added that Russian leader Vladimir Putin's "recklessness has taken us closer to a dangerous nuclear escalation than at any point since the Cuban Missile Crisis".