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The UK’s new aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth has set off to the Pacific. CND and the Stop the War Coalition have joined with MPs and cultural figures to write to the Prime Minister, opposing this provocative deployment. The letter and list of signatories can be found below.

The flotilla will head to the disputed waters of the South China Sea, carrying US fighter jets and, as the letter points out, this ‘can only make conflict with China more likely.’ The signatories call on the government to refocus instead on international cooperation.

Kate Hudson, General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said:

‘How well this demonstrates the Government’s warped priorities: spending vast sums on sending a warship halfway round the world while many British children don’t have enough to eat and the NHS struggles to bear the pressures of the pandemic. This is a provocative voyage that should be called off. Our government needs to end the military posturing and work with all in the global community to meet the enormous challenges we face.’

Lindsey German, Convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, said:

‘Boris Johnson wants to project a view of global Britain which will only make the world more dangerous. He promotes militarism abroad while cutting health and education spending at home. This deployment is costly and conflict ridden and will bring no benefit.’

Full text of letter:

Dear Prime Minister,

We are writing regarding your decision to send the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier group to the Pacific, to ‘make a global Great Britain a reality’. We believe it to be both utterly wasteful and potentially dangerous.

The carrier will have a fleet of up to 36 US F-35 fighter jets to fly off its decks, it will be accompanied by numerous escort vessels, and a strike group company of some 1,600 personnel. The project to build the aircraft carrier and sister ship HMS Prince of Wales cost more than £6bn but with all the connected operating costs and support the total price will be in the tens of billions.

This is a huge misallocation of resources, at a point when the NHS is underfunded and at breaking point, as has been made most cruelly clear by the experience of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Your government seeks to use this deployment to rekindle defence ties with former colonial outposts across Asia, aspiring to global military pretensions which were largely given up 50 years ago when Britain withdrew its military presence from ‘East of Suez’. It is an act of sheer folly.

Sending the carrier into the disputed waters of the South China Sea, bearing US fighter jets, can only make conflict with China more likely, and can even escalate the likelihood of accident leading to war with another nuclear-armed state.

Now is not a time for gunboat diplomacy. We must face up to the facts of colonial injustices and explore new ways of cooperation instead of glorifying imperial myths.

Rather than stoking rivalries in the Pacific, we ask you to get behind international efforts to tackle the real global threats – such as inequality, poverty, pandemics, and environmental destruction.

The world does not need a new Cold War; it needs a new agenda. We oppose this deployment and call on your government to refocus on international cooperation for a green global recovery.

Yours sincerely,

Diane Abbott MP
Victoria Brittain, Writer
Kevin Courtney, NEU General Secretary
Brian Eno, Musician & Stop the War Coalition President
Lindsey German, Stop the War Coalition Convenor
John Gittings, Writer
Kate Hudson, CND
Ken Loach, Film maker
Lowkey, Musician
Miriam Margolyes, Actor
Kika Markham, Actor
Maxine Peake, Actor
John Pilger, Journalist
Professor Paul Rogers
Mark Rylance, Actor
Zarah Sultana MP