Defence Sec 'furious' over 'woke' report urging British Army to prioritise diversity over security vetting for recruits

11 February 2024, 08:56 | Updated: 11 February 2024, 09:00

The British Army want to loosen security checks for overseas recruits in order to boost diversity and inclusion, according to reports.
The British Army want to loosen security checks for overseas recruits in order to boost diversity and inclusion, according to reports. Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Emma Soteriou

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps has shut down recommendations for the British Army to prioritise "diversity and inclusion" over security vetting for overseas recruits.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

The British Army wants to loosen security checks for overseas recruits in order to boost diversity and inclusion, a leaked report revealed.

But Defence Secretary Grant Shapps has shut down the move, insisting there will not be "any lowering of security clearance requirements" for those hoping to join.

Britain's armed forces are currently going through a recruitment crisis and are seeking to boost their numbers through recruiting from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Documents seen by the Telegraph, which are part of internal policy suggestions and recommendations drafted up by the Army, suggest loosening vetting requirements as they are "the primary barrier to non-UK personnel gaining a commission in the Army".

Read More: Ukraine’s new army chief aiming to harness power of high-tech weapons

Responding to the report, Mr Shapps said: “I am ordering a review of diversity and inclusivity policy at the MoD.

“We want people from all backgrounds to serve in our military but some policies appear to be more about a political agenda than practically improving the lives of our dedicated soldiers and military personnel.

“There will certainly not be any lowering of security clearance requirements on my watch.

“And no one should be offended by having religion as part of remembrance services. You don’t have to be Christian to appreciate and respect the history and traditions of the United Kingdom.”

Former Head Of SIS Gives Evidence At Diana Inquest
Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6 from 1999 to 2004, said: "The evidence published today in the Telegraph, which apparently prioritises the diversity, equality, and inclusion in matters of national security, is very worrying indeed. Picture: Getty

A source close to the Defence Secretary said he was "furious" over the leaked report and would "go to battle" to stop the "woke nonsense".

"We want an Armed Forces that everyone who is willing to serve their country is welcome to join and that supports them personally," they said.

“But the Defence Secretary is genuinely furious about this woke nonsense and he’s determined it is routed out on his watch. He’s ready to go to battle on it.

“He has talked repeatedly about how it is a more dangerous world so there is no way security levels will be lowered while he is Secretary of State.

“There are personnel issues that need addressing in the Armed Services but some of these policies are about a woke agenda and extreme critical race theories.

“These are leftist ideas that have leaked into the civil service and they are at best a distraction and at worst poisoning the wider discussion.

“The Secretary of State is happy for people to have a voice but having 93 diversity groups is a sign that the issue is out of control and he will act.

“There is already a review of equality, diversity and inclusivity policies for the civil service and already unconscious bias training has rightly been scrapped. The same standards will apply to Defence.”

Freedom Parade For Soldiers Returning From Afghanistan
Freedom Parade For Soldiers Returning From Afghanistan. Picture: Getty

The row comes after the government was urged earlier this year to "get a grip" on the British army, with troop numbers falling fast, amid NATO warnings that Western countries could be at war with Russia within two decades.

The British army could number just 52,000 troops in ten years, based on current trends, an analysis has shown.

It currently stands at around 76,000 regular full-time troops, down from nearly 103,000 in 2012.

The government plans to cut the number of soldiers to 72,500 by next year, which has caused concern among US generals.

But with recruitment proving difficult despite contracts worth more than a billion pounds awarded to a private company to oversee the process, army numbers could drop faster.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Prince Harry

Al Qaeda 'called for Prince Harry to be killed,' court filing claims, as he loses challenge over taxpayer funded protection

French authorities are said to be handling the situation.

Bodies of three suspected migrants found in Channel as urgent search and rescue operation launched

This super speedy acceleration makes "not an especially nice noise", with the journalist saying it is "bowel loosening".

Jeremy Clarkson brands supercars 'too difficult' after driving new £308k vehicle

Aerial view of mansions still standing along a cliff after a portion of the cliffside (L) tumbled to the Pacific Ocean following days of heavy rains earlier this month on February 27, 2024 in Dana Point, California

Multi-million dollar mansions left teetering on cliff edge after landslides, but authorities say there's 'no threat'

Christian Horner has been cleared of inappropriate behaviour

Red Bull F1 boss Christian Horner cleared of inappropriate behaviour as 'grievance dismissed' after investigation

Joe Biden

Joe Biden set for his annual physical examination

Black audience-only performances, also known as Black Outs, aim to get Black people into the theatre - an otherwise white-dominated space.

West End play criticised over 'Black Out' performances, which protects theatre goers from 'the white gaze'

Nigeria Shell Sale

Activists urge Nigeria to delay Shell’s £1.89bn sale of assets in Niger Delta

Christian Horner

Geri Halliwell's husband Christian Horner set to be cleared of misconduct after 'inappropriate behaviour' allegations

Five people died when the Titan submersible suffered a 'catastrophic implosion'

Mystery banging noises that sparked hope in desperate search for missing Titan submersible released for first time

Emma Caldwell was killed in 2005 and her body was found in woods 40 miles from Glasgow

Predator to spend life behind bars after strangling woman to death and dumping her naked body in woods

Former Miner Steve Fergus (left) and Easington Colliery's Front Street, 40 years on from the miners' strike (right)

Miners' strike 40 years on: East Durham pit workers accuse successive governments of 'levelling down, not up'

Ja Rule has been blocked from entering the UK

Rapper Ja Rule 'told he can't enter UK' ahead of British concerts because of his criminal record

The Pope leaves hospital

Pope taken to hospital in Rome following weekly audience

Mr Khan has been threatened by both far-right and Islamist extremists, the source also claims.

Sadiq Khan 'facing death threats from Islamists and needs round-the-clock police protection'

The Pantex complex

Wildfires prompt shutdown of nuclear weapons facility in Texas