'If we can't trust the Tories on defence what can we trust them on?': Nick Ferrari puts Grant Shapps on the spot

18 April 2024, 08:44

Nick Ferrari puts Grant Shapps on the spot over defence spending

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

This is the moment Nick Ferrari put Tory Defence Secretary Grant Shapps on the spot over military spending and law and order.

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“How embarrassing is it when the front page of the Daily Mail, which is of course read by many of your supporters, saying that the Tories trail Labour on defence and you're the Defence Secretary, so you don't even have votes there?”

The conversation comes after a poll of more than 5,400 voters conducted by former Tory treasurer Lord Ashcroft revealed the Tories lag behind Labour in a string of traditional Conservative policy areas, including defence, tax, immigration, and Brexit.

The poll, commissioned by the Daily Mail, reveals although the Tories trail Labour on many key issues 45 per cent of the public do not want a Labour government.

Last month's Budget contained no new money for defence despite concerns about the state of the UK military and the Government's commitment to spend 2.5% of GDP on defence "as soon as economic conditions allow" has failed to calm criticism.

Nick Ferrari asked Defence Secretary Grant Shapps the tough question.
Nick Ferrari asked Defence Secretary Grant Shapps the tough question. Picture: LBC

Mr Shapps said he thought it was an indication of the “broader hole, where there is a significant gap,” he went on to say his party were the “underdogs” adding the same poll also said that 45% of people “don’t want Starmer as Prime Minister.”

Putting Mr Shapps on the spot Nick asked “If we can’t look to the Tories for defence or law and order what can we look to them for?”

Read more: Jeremy Hunt admits Britain needs to increase defence spending – but no extra cash will be given before next election

Read more: Iran must be 'hit back twice as hard', says ex-defence secretary Ben Wallace as Rishi Sunak calls for 'restraint'

The top Tory said he disagreed with Nick on the issue of defence “given that the Conservative Party and this government has just raised defence spending further 1.8%.” Mr Shapps said this was amount in “cash terms, 56 billion quid tthat we’ve ever had for defence.”

“Defence is safe with us,” the minister told Nick.

Former defence chief Lord Stirrup has previously warned that basing military spending on the financial climate rather than threats to national security was not "any kind of prudent".

Amid praise for the UK's military at Westminster after RAF jets helped thwart Iran's mass missile and drone attack on Israel, Conservative peer Lord Tugendhat said: "Thanks to our armed services are all very well. They are now being very much stretched.

"It would be good to hear something from the Government about increasing the defence budget rather than talking about the taxes that could be lowered."

Lord Minto said: "I am sure most of the House is fully aware of where I sit on this.

"We have a finite amount of resource within this country and it's a question of where it gets allocated to. We are spending more this year on defence than we have ever spent before.

"It looks like it's going to be about 2.3% - £55.6 billion.

"It would be fantastic to be able to buy more ships, buy more planes, employ a whole lot more people.

"But the capability and the ability of our armed forces protects this country extremely well."