Tories and Labour mark Armistice Day with election makes pledges to armed forces

Labour and Tory leaders have marked Armistice Day, today, with election pledges to the armed forces.

Monday, 11th November 2019, 8:17 am
Prime Minister Boris is making promises to army veterans. Aaron Chown/PA Wire

The Armistice, an agreement to end the fighting of the First World War as a prelude to peace negotiations, began at 11am on 11 November 1918.

Boris Johnson marked the date by pledging to change the law to protect Armed Forces veterans from vexatious legal action, as the General Election campaign enters its second week.

The Tories want to end unfair trials of veterans where no new evidence has been produced and the accusations have been questioned exhaustively in court.

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If they win a majority at the election, the party will amend the Human Rights Act so it does not apply to incidents - including deaths during the Troubles - which took place before the law came into force in 2000.

The pledge is among a package of measures the party is proposing to support military personnel, veterans and their families.

Labour, meanwhile, has announced plans to improve the working conditions for the forces - including scrapping the public sector pay cap and providing more decent housing.

Mr Johnson, who will visit the Black Country to mark Armistice Day, said a Tory government would “always support” the Armed Forces.

He said: “As we remember the ultimate sacrifice made by our brave men and women for their country just over a century ago, it is right that we renew our commitment to the soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen and veterans of today.”

The Conservative pledge includes measures to guarantee veterans job interviews for public sector roles, provide Ministry of Defence funded “wraparound” childcare, and tax relief for companies which hire veterans in the first year after they have left service.

Jeremy Corbyn has vowed to improve working conditions for the Armed Forces if he wins the General Election.

The Labour leader said his party’s manifesto, due to be released later this month, would include five major pledges to support personnel and their families.

Labour will promise to scrap the public sector pay cap and provide decent housing for forces and their families by ending the reliance on the private rented sector.

It will also consult on creating a representative body to give a voice for service men and women, and end privatisation - with a review on outsourcing contracts.

The party will also pledge to improve support for forces children with better access to schools and dedicated local authorities admissions strategy to help with frequent school moves.

According to Labour analysis, the starting salary of a private is £1,159 lower in real terms than in 2010.

Mr Corbyn said: “Real security requires decent pay, decent housing, support for our Armed Forces and their families, and a way to get their voice heard.

“Our forces should not have to put up with pay cuts, sub-standard housing, difficulties accessing school for their children, or face the uncertainty of relying on outsourced providers.

“After a decade of government cuts and outsourcing, Labour offers our Armed Forces real change with the pay, conditions and respect they deserve.”

The announcement, made on Remembrance Sunday, comes after Mr Corbyn joined Boris Johnson, Jo Swinson and Ian Blackford in laying wreaths at the Cenotaph to commemorate the Armistice.

Yesterday the Queen lead the UK in a two-minute silence for Remembrance Sunday, as huge crowds gathered in central London to pay their respects to the war dead.

Looking out on the parade from a balcony, and flanked by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, the monarch appeared to wipe away a tear during the poignant ceremony.

The Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle was watching from a separate balcony with Sophie, Countess of Wessex and Princess Anne’s husband, Tim Laurence.

Crowds arrived at the Cenotaph early this morning to pay their respects to fallen soldiers, with thousands lining the streets.