POLITICS

General 'Fully Entitled' To Criticise Jeremy Corbyn's Nuclear Weapons Position, Says Defence Secretary

10/11/2015 08:56 GMT | Updated 10/11/2015 08:59 GMT
JUSTIN TALLIS via Getty Images
British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street in London on October 27, 2015. Britain will keep its current level of 450 troops on non-combat missions in Afghanistan into 2016, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said in a written statement to parliament on October 27. AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLIS (Photo credit should read JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Michael Fallon, the defence secretary, has defended the chief of defence staff, after he was accused of making an unacceptable criticism of Jeremy Corbyn.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning, Fallon said General Sir Nicholas Houghton had been "fully entitled" to warn against unilateral disarmament.

"Sir Nicholas made it very clear he wasn't attacking the Labour leader personally. He was asked question about the credibility of the deterrent and he answered it," he said.

"He gave a straight answer to as straight question, which is the deterrent relies on its credibility on the fact you may be prepared, one day, to use it."

Fallon added it would be "pretty odd" if the chief of defence staff was not able to answer questions about the country's defence forces.

marr

Corbyn has said he would never fire Britain's nuclear weapons if he were prime minister. On Sunday, General Houghton, the country's top military officer, told the BBC he would be worried if Corbyn's anti-Trident policy was "translated into power".

The Labour leader declared that the military chief had overstepped the mark and had breached long-standing constitutional principles of the separation between the armed forces and politicians.

"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 political neutral at all times," Corbyn said.

Yesterday former Lib Dem leader Lord Ashdown suggested senior military officers should be stopped from appearing on television to stop them "straying on to territory where they should not be".