LABOUR leader Jeremy Corbyn yesterday called for disciplinary action to be taken against Britain’s top military commander, General Sir Nicholas Houghton, over political interference.
Corbyn said: ‘It is a matter of serious concern that the Chief of the Defence Staff has today intervened directly in issues of political dispute. ‘It is essential in a democracy that the military remains politically neutral at all times. By publicly taking sides in current political arguments, Sir Nicholas Houghton has clearly breached that constitutional principle. Accordingly, I am writing to the Defence Secretary to ask him to take action to ensure that the neutrality of the armed forces is upheld.’
Earlier General Houghton had warned the UK is ‘letting down’ its allies ‘by not being a full player’ and taking part in airstrikes against so-called Islamic State in Syria. The Chief of the Defence Staff told Sky News: ‘Daesh, ISIL, they have a caliphate that extends across that border. ‘But the source of their power, their command and control, their logistics, their organisation, the place from which they issue orders to international terrorists is from within Syria. And so to be denied our ability to play a proportionate role in that makes no sense.’
He went on to tell the Andrew Marr Show it was not possible for forces from outside the region to defeat IS militarily and it should ultimately be left to ‘local forces’ on the ground.” I don’t think we should play the decisive military role because it runs the risk of adding fuel to the radicalisation of ISIS as an abhorrent cult,’ he added.
He said evidence that a bomb may have brought down a Russian airliner in Egypt may prove to be a turning point in the West’s relationship with Russia and attitudes towards the future of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. ‘There is an opportunity for political convergence between America, ourselves, the West and Putin,’ he said.
Houghton also said Jeremy Corbyn’s refusal to launch nuclear weapons would ‘undermine’ the UK’s ‘deterrent’ if he became PM. The general told Andrew Marr he would be worried if such a view ‘translated into power’.