Sir Michael Fallon The Andrew Marr Show


Sir Michael Fallon

Recorded coverage of Andrew Marr interviewing defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon, from Sunday 14 May.


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Now Sir Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, has been used by the

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prime list as her faithful attack dog. I think it is fair to say he is

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not a massive fan of Jeremy Corbyn but he has plenty of questions to

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answer about the state of the Armed Forces under the Conservatives.

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In 2015 the Conservatives made a solemn promise about the size

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of the Armed Forces, can you remind us of the promise?

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We said we would build the army up to 82000 by 2020.

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What is the size of the Armed Forces?

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We said we would build up forces, including reserves

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The quote was, we will maintain the size of the regular armed

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services and not reduce the army to below 82000 and the current

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figure is 79,000, so you have broken that promise.

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We said we would do it over the parliament

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Increasing the size of the Army up to 2020,

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We have recruitment campaigns, increasing the size of the Navy,

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the size of the Royal Air Force and we are determined to improve

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the offer we make to service men and women to attract the best

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At the moment recruitment is going badly and you are not

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getting enough into the army, you were meant to get 9500 in this

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year and it is 6000, you are going backwards.

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We have several years before we reach our target

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but we are spending more on the Armed Forces.

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The budget goes up every year and we are giving them

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You said I don't accept those figures.

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The figures, the target was 9580 to join last year and the figure

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That is why top brass are worried about you and the army under you.

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We cannot force people to join, we do not have conscription,

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the Army has to compete with other sectors.

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It was a promise over the parliament and we are only two

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years into the parliament and we are spending money

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on recruiting and giving the Armed Forces equipment they need.

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You have seen aircraft carriers being built,

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we are buying new aircraft, and investing in

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You said you will increase defence spending by 0.5% above inflation.

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That costs roughly over the five years of the new parliament added

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to the two years of the last parliament giving the forces roughly

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?1 billion more than if we had simply met the 2% target.

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The money comes from the growing economy and it was a commitment

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we made, choice to spend more on the health service

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and defence and we have reduce spending in other areas.

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So this is an underfunded commitment, you are

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The money has to come from somewhere.

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Borrowing is slowly going to be reduced but it comes from a growing

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economy is the real answer, because we are running

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the economy efficiently and because the economy is growing,

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more people in work, more revenue coming in,

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and we can make choices, not wild spending and borrowing

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promises like Labour but to spend more on the NHS and defence.

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According to the Defence Select Committee and Times newspaper

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there is a black hole in your equipment budget

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We are planning the biggest equipment programme in generations.

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New aircraft carriers, frigates, maritime patrol aircraft,

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Part of the cost has to come from efficiency savings,

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getting rid for example of land, barracks, buildings we do not need,

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being more efficient in the way we work.

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7.3 billion over the 10-year period, over the five-year period,

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I'm sorry, of efficiency savings on top of savings already made

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which means if you have airfields you do not need you shut them down.

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We have 60 airfields, we do not need 60.

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You have to be more efficient as a large organisation

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It is absolutely right to invest in that programme we have

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to reinvest efficiency savings we make.

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The big change is we keep all the efficiency savings.

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The Treasury does not take them back.

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You have not persuaded your top brass who wrote a letter

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It says that your statements about the defence budget have been

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disingenuous quoting irrelevant financial statistics and they say,

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the government boasts of spending 2% of GDP on defence,

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widely criticised as a deception and the Armed Forces are having

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to seek damaging savings at a time when combat operations

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The 2% is not our figure, it is the Nato figure.

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It is the way you have netted a or criticising. -- you have met it they

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are criticising. The Secretary General of Nato

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was in London this week seeing myself on the Prime Minister

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and he confirmed publicly according to the Nato definitions,

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we are meeting 2%, almost 2.2%. It is other countries that are not

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spending up to the 2% and he confirmed our spending

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is defined according These are former chiefs

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of defence staff. Have you ever met somebody covered

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in brass, a former defence chief They are passionate about defence

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and so am I and I am proud It was 35 billion last year

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and 36 billion this year and will go up to 40 billion and we will invest

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the biggest equipment programme the Armed Forces have seen

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in generations and to do that we have to be more efficient

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about the way we work. What this government has not

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invested in is defences You did not give the NHS the proper

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money to stop this cyber attack In the security review over a year

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and a few months ago we identified cyber threats as one of the three

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principal threats and set aside ?1.9 billion to protect us better

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against cyber and a chunk of that We are spending around ?50 million

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on the NHS cyber systems to improve security and have encouraged NHS

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trusts to reduce exposure Less than 5% of the trusts

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use that system. There is money available

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to strengthen these systems. You did not pay for them

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to strengthen that system It was an old system

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we did not want them to use. We warned them and we warned them

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again in the spring. It is the fault of the trusts, not

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the government, is that what you are saying?

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We all have to work about this, the NHS wasn't

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The same attacks were applied to Nissan and other areas

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We are spending money on strengthening the cyber defence

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Is it the case the nuclear, Trident submarines are using Windows XP?

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We never comment on different systems for reasons

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Vanguard submarines, I can absolutely assure you are safe

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and operate in isolation when out on patrol.

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I have complete confidence in the nuclear deterrent.

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There is no possibility of a malware attack against the military?

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I can assure you the nuclear deterrent is protected.

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You used a strange phrase when you said in certain

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circumstances you thought we would use first strike

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The key to the nuclear deterrent is to leave uncertainty in the mind

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of any potential adversary, if he is looking at a country

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to attack, as to what response he can expect, to leave ambiguity

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in the mind of your enemy and that is why we never rule out

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whether we would apply first strike or not.

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You can imagine using nuclear weapons before anybody else?

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The job of the nuclear weapons is to deter and has done that

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successfully over 50 years since we have had

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You have been critical of Labour on the nuclear issue and defence.

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They might say that the problem with your side is wanting to talk

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first and bomb later but you always want to bomb first and talk later.

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Is there a single war since the Second World War

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When we voted on the Iraq War, we were under

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I voted for it, like a lot of MPs, because we were told

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there were weapons of mass destruction and it

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I regret voting for it on the basis there were weapons

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I regret voting for it on the basis there weren't weapons

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We were dealing with a dictator who invaded other countries and were

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The problem with Labour's approaches they are now saying

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Emily Thornberry suggested they might negotiate over

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You were in favour of using force in Libya.

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The Foreign Select Committee report on what happened in Libya

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after the war you were keen on, it resulted in, it says, economic

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collapse, intertribal warfare, humanitarian and migrant crises,

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human rights violations and the spread of the Gadaffi regime

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In short it was a total disaster and you voted for it.

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The reason was to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe

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where an entire city was potentially going to be wiped out.

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That is why we have the intervention.

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You are right, when you intervene, we need to learn the lessons

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of these conflicts, there needs to be a proper plan

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for stabilisation, I have been working with others

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That we stabilise these areas and bring in security after the war

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is over to ensure the Sunni have a proper stake

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You have launched a new council housing policy and there are two

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The money is coming from the 1.4 billion earmarked for capital

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expenditure from the Autumn Statement.

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It is not new money but the amount of money for each council

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will depend on deals struck with Manchester, Birmingham,

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to get more social housing built in these areas of a high enough

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It is an attractive policy that will give people an alternative

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to waiting and waiting to get into a council house or flat.

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You and Emily Thornberry are coming back in a little while.

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