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Penny Mordaunt on working closely with the Ministry of Defence and doing our bit for Commonwealth Veterans

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Today, the International Development Secretary gave a speech at Policy Exchange in London today (Thursday 28 June 2018) setting out how development and defence can work more closely together and how the UK is doing its bit for Commonwealth veterans.

Ms Mordaunt talked about how “the connection between UK aid and our Armed Forces is deep and strong” and how “defence, diplomacy and development are inter-reliant on each other”.

She highlighted a “new approach” that involves much more explicit co-designed and co-funded projects between the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) that will “help deliver excellence in aid but also will work more explicitly in Britain’s national interest”.

Ms Mordaunt also announced a commitment to support Commonwealth veterans - who served Her Majesty’s Armed Forces before their countries became independent - and are now living in poverty.

This was reported in the Sun, Telegraph and Mail newspapers this morning and an opinion piece from Ms Mordaunt was published on the Times Red Box and Online.

 In the Times Red Box and Online, International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said:

 “British people like to help one another. It’s a quality which is key to our communities, in how we help our neighbours and good causes. The ultimate expression of that willingness to help one another is to serve in our Armed Forces.

“I say this as a Secretary of State who has been both a member of our Armed Forces and an aid worker. I know that the connection between UK aid and our Armed Forces is deep and strong.

“Defence depends on diplomacy and development to reduce the crises it’s dealing with.

“As General Mattis said as he argued to maintain funding to the State Department, “If you want to cut the budget, you better buy me some more bombs”.

“The Ministry of Defence (MOD) and my own department, the Department for International Development (DFID), are both operationally focused departments. We are experts at getting the job done, often in difficult environments.

“When the Ebola epidemic broke out in Sierra Leone in 2014, our military played a crucial role in helping build treatment centres and train healthcare workers.

“When a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal in 2015, RAF C-17 aircraft carrying emergency relief supplies and Gurkha engineers helped get UK aid to where it was most needed.

“And when Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck the Caribbean with devastating force last year, it was British troops and DFID logisticians, who helped restore electricity and deliver tonnes of UK aid to the people in greatest need.

“Together, we have acted, and continue to act swiftly and decisively.

“We’re working closely with all government departments, which spend a share of the aid budget, but particularly the MOD.

“We have a new joint approach, which involves more explicitly co-designed and co-funded projects. These will deliver excellence in aid, but also help Britain’s interests at home and overseas.

“I think the MOD and DFID can do even more together to create much needed stability in conflict and fragile states - and help to prevent conflict from breaking out in the first place.

“We are exploring ideas, such as disaster relief training for UK and overseas military personnel, and realising the benefits of more joint training.

“Together, the MOD and DFID are looking at working on several new projects to tackle gender-based violence and improve the quality of peacekeeping troops around the world.

“We should work towards even greater cooperation - maximising the benefit for our nation from our respective budgets. We should be making the most of our taxpayer-funded assets.

“We’re also building stronger ties between our respective worlds.

“But there’s much more we can do to ensure that Government is more than the sum of our parts.

“There is also something extra we can do to support those who have served the UK.

“Across the Commonwealth, many answered the call to serve Her Majesty’s Armed Forces before their countries became independent.

“Approximately 8,500 of these elderly veterans or their widows face a daily struggle to meet their basic needs; for decent food, shelter and medicines. No-one could possibly think that’s right.

“Those who have served our nation, including in World War II, deserve our support in their twilight years.

“Over the last few months, we have been working with veterans charities to identify the scale of need. I am pleased to announce today that DFID is designing a bespoke program for pre-independence Commonwealth veterans, who served under the Commonwealth banner as UK allies, and are now living in poverty.

“Again, this is about working together, about community and looking out for others, qualities which are at the core of our national values.

“It is my ambition to get defense and development working much more closely together in future: to save lives, boost prosperity and create much needed stability around the world, to support our Veterans.

“By funding work that will support the British people or causes that they care passionately about, we do not dilute the good aid does, we will double it. We will seek a win for the developing world and a win for the UK in all we do.”

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