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1992 - Press Release - Prime Minister’s Comments on Defence

Below is the text of the Conservative Party Press Release on Mr Major’s comments on defence. It was issued on Wednesday 1st April 1992, reference 721/92.


BRITAIN FIRST, SECURITY FIRST

“No issue is more important than defence. It is a vital issue at this election,” the Rt Hon John Major, Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservative Party, told a press conference at Conservative Central Office today.

"It is an issue at every election.

But it is an issue of the greatest importance when Opposition policies pose a threat to the security of our country.

Year after year, our forces have kept the peace in Northern Ireland, manned the West's front line in Germany and guarded our shores and our interests. Just over a year ago, British forces joined our Allies in expelling Iraqi invaders from Kuwait.

The role of our forces is always changing; and always vital. They must be properly equipped for their dangerous task. The Government I lead will always maintain strong defences for Britain. The Labour Party would not. They would cut our defences to the bone. To the marrow.

Today's world is one of great opportunities; but also great dangers. We have all seen how fast the map of world politics can change. And how important it is that your government should act confidently, consistently and courageously in world affairs.

That is why we took the lead in denouncing last August's coup in the former Soviet Union - and in recognising Russia.

We have strongly supported international assistance for Russian reform. Boris Yeltsin asked if Britain would represent Russia's interests in negotiations with the IMF. We agreed. And I am delighted to be able to announce this morning that the IMF has reached agreement on the terms of Russia's membership. I am very confident that the Group of Seven countries will now endorse the safety-net we have urged: a rouble stabilisation fund for Russia. This is a historic moment in Russia's struggle to escape from socialism and join the western world of free markets and economic development.

We must do everything we can to shore up the peace and stability of the republics of the former Soviet Union. But we must never drop our guard. New conflicts can break out as quickly as forest fires. The nuclear threat to Britain has not gone with the ending of the Cold War. The future of the nuclear weapons of the old Soviet Union is still uncertain. The danger of nuclear proliferation is as great as ever.

Conservative governments have always shown that they can be trusted with Britain's defences. Mr Kinnock's Labour Party have made it abundantly clear they cannot. Today only a Conservative government can be trusted to defend Britain.

For the Labour Party, defence policy has been about patching up their squabbles. Party first. Nation last.

For Conservatives, defence policy has always been about the national interest. Britain first. Security first.

The security of our country is the security of every family."