UK Labour party members reject AUKUS

Richard Wheeler, PA Parliamentary Editor
(Australian Associated Press)


Members of the Labour party in the United Kingdom have opposed the AUKUS military pact just hours after the party leadership insisted the country should “no longer be half-hearted” about essential alliances.

An emergency motion at Labour Party conference criticised the agreement between the UK, United States and Australia – dubbed AUKUS – amid fears it is a “dangerous move which will undermine world peace”.

It added the deal will not promote stability in the Indo-Pacific region and urged the party to recommit its support for enforcing the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

But the vote was condemned by the GMB union, which warned opposition to the pact “undermines industries where jobs are under threat”.

It also came after shadow defence secretary John Healey told delegates that the UK would “no longer be half-hearted about essential alliances and treaties” under a Labour government.

Labour leader Keir Starmer welcomed “increased co-operation” with Australia and the US when the deal was announced earlier this month.

Under the terms of the pact, the three allies have agreed to co-operate on the development for the first time of a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines for the Australian navy.

The move, widely interpreted as an attempt to check China’s growing military assertiveness in the region, was swiftly condemned by officials in Beijing as a “geopolitical gaming tool”.

GMB regional secretary Hazel Nolan said the Labour conference has “proven itself to be out of touch and on the wrong side of job creation once again”.

“This deal could be a real opportunity for UK manufacturing. To dismiss it out of hand is nonsense,” she said.

“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.”

The motion to reject AUKUS was approved by 70.35 per cent to 29.65 per cent by delegates at the conference in Brighton.

In an earlier speech, Healey said he wanted the UK to “no longer be half-hearted about essential alliances and treaties” in the United Nations, NATO, the Five Eyes and the International Court of Justice.

“We will give the highest priority to security in Europe, North Atlantic and Arctic, pursuing new defence co-operation with European NATO neighbours.”

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