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Labour vows 'global leadership role' in push for worldwide nuclear disarmament

Published 26/09/2016

Emily Thornberry underlined the importance of long-term planning for regions
Emily Thornberry underlined the importance of long-term planning for regions

A Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn would make successful multilateral nuclear disarmament talks its principal foreign policy objective, Emily Thornberry has suggested.

The shadow foreign secretary told delegates at the party's annual conference that Labour "will show that an ethical foreign policy is not a pipe dream" as she equated the need for action on nuclear weapons to the fight against climate change.

Ms Thornberry also committed her party to make up any shortfalls in funding for deprived regions and communities resulting from Britain's departure from the European Union.

She said on the issue of nuclear disarmament "we can and we must seize the global leadership role".

She said: "We all know how irresponsible it would be to ignore the problem of climate change, and allow it to get worse, and leave our children and grandchildren to worry about the consequences.

"So why don't we say the same about nuclear weapons which have the power to destroy the world we live in in minutes, not just over decades?

"So a future Labour government will not just revive talks on multilateral nuclear disarmament among the world's great powers, we will make the success of those talks the test of success of our foreign policy."

Mr Corbyn, who favours a policy of unilateral disarmament, has previously said he would be unwilling to press the nuclear button if he was in Number 10.

MPs voted overwhelmingly earlier this year to renew the UK's Trident nuclear deterrent system and Mr Corbyn was angrily condemned by some of his own MPs for opposing the measure.

On the issue of EU funding, she said: "For the period 2014 to 2020, the UK was allocated 10.8 billion euros in structural funding for our most deprived regions and communities.

"The Tories have given an undertaking hedged around with conditions that funding up to 2020 will be protected.

"For the period after, they have said nothing. That is not good enough. That is not good enough.

"Without long-term certainty over funding, our most deprived regions and communities cannot plan ahead. They cannot attract other investment. They cannot make progress.

"So thanks to John McDonnell, Labour's shadow chancellor, we can guarantee that a future Labour government will make up any shortfall in structural funding into the 2020s and beyond. And the same will go for the funding of peace and reconciliation projects in Northern Ireland."

Regions likely to benefit most from the scheme would be Wales, which is allocated 2.4 billion euro (£2.1bn) under the current seven-year programme, the South West, which is due to receive 1.5bn euro (£1.3bn) and the North West, with an allocation of 1.13bn euro (£979m).

Chancellor Philip Hammond announced in August that the Treasury will guarantee to back EU structural and investment funding projects signed before this year's Autumn Statement, in a move which could cost up to £6 billion a year up to 2020.

Meanwhile, Glenis Willmott MEP, the leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party, told delegates they must be prepared to oppose any Brexit deal struck by the Government with Brussels which fails to address key issues like protecting the NHS.

She said: "Conference, the job at hand is both immense and intimidating and as a movement we will have to fight as hard as we have ever fought to stop a neo-liberal vision for Britain that would leave our country even more divided than today.

"So we shouldn't be shy about it, we shouldn't be scared.

"If the Tory Brexit deal with the EU is not right, we must fight it.

"We shouldn't accept a deal that doesn't guarantee our social and working rights. We shouldn't accept a deal that doesn't have our environmental protections. We shouldn't accept a deal that will hit jobs, lower standards and wages.

"We shouldn't accept a deal that opens up our public services and the NHS to profit over people."

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