UK's Opposition Labour members pass motion declaring AUKUS 'dangerous'

Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer had backed the alliance when it was announced, saying: “Britain must look after our most important relationships.”

Published: 28th September 2021 03:10 PM  |   Last Updated: 28th September 2021 03:10 PM   |  A+A-

Boris Johnson

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (File Photo | AP)


LONDON: The UK’s Opposition Labour Party members have passed an emergency motion declaring the new AUKUS military pact between Australia, UK and the US as a “dangerous move” threatening world peace.

The party’s annual conference is underway in the seaside town of Brighton, where members had pushed through the emergency motion on Monday despite the party leadership backing the agreement earlier this month.

However, the wider membership passed the motion, 70 per cent to 30 per cent, attacking the Conservative Party Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“Conference believes that in contradiction to Tory PM Johnson’s statement that ‘this will promote stability in the Indo-Pacific region’, in fact, this is a dangerous move which will undermine world peace,” the motion reads.

Under the AUKUS alliance, the three nations have agreed to enhance the development of joint capabilities and technology sharing, including a collaboration on future nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy.

Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer had backed the alliance when it was announced, saying: “Britain must look after our most important relationships.”

The passing of the motion is seen as a reflection of a divide within the Opposition party, with former leader Jeremy Corbyn backed leftist faction pushing through their agenda.

It came as Andy McDonald, who was shadow secretary for employment rights in Starmer’s frontline team, stepped down from the post claiming that the party was “more divided than ever”.

The conference vote was condemned by one of its affiliate workers'' unions, the GMB union, which warned that opposition to the new military agreement would undermine industries and jobs.

“This deal could be a real opportunity for UK manufacturing. To dismiss it out of hand is nonsense,” said GMB regional secretary Hazel Nolan.

“If it ever wants to be in power, Labour needs to get back to its roots and speak up for jobs and the concerns of working people,” she said.

The Labour Party conference, which opened over the weekend, has been seen as the first major test for Starmer’s leadership.

He won his first big win when his planned internal party election reforms were passed by the party membership and has insisted that his focus remains on setting the agenda for winning the next general election.

His senior shadow minister, foreign secretary Lisa Nandy, made references to her Indian roots and her father who migrated from India to the UK in the 1950s and worked on creating the country’s Race Relations Act.

“Almost a century ago the seams of my family were threaded together when the Indian independence campaign, supported by my grandparents, had devastating consequences for Lancashire textile workers,” she recalled.

“When the cotton stopped coming, the mills stopped running and the workers went hungry. But members of my family, who worked in those mills, were among those who welcomed Gandhi to Lancashire. Because they knew, as I know, as the first mixed-race woman to ever hold this office, that solidarity has power and our struggle is one and the same,” she said.

Labour's annual conference will be followed by the Conservative Party conference in Manchester between October 3 and 5. The political parties have resumed their annual tradition of in-person gatherings after a cancellation due to the coronavirus lockdown last year.


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