Starmer should ‘hold out’ olive branch to Corbyn says Gardiner
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Speaking at a fringe event at the Labour Party conference, the former opposition leader criticised Boris Johnson for signing the pact with Australia and the US. Addressing a crowded room in Brighton, the Islington North MP appeared to push for a policy of appeasement towards Beijing.
He claimed a military solution was not the answer and the UK should instead look to engage with China through diplomatic talks to improve issues such as human rights.
He told an event organised by the Stop the War Coalition: “What should be the priority in these times?
“Building aircraft carriers, increasing the number of nuclear missiles, and squaring up to China, or, quite rightly demanding and engaging China and every other country to respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?”
Aukus was announced earlier this month and will see the UK and US work with Australia to build its first nuclear-powered submarine fleet.
It will give Australia greater capability to defend itself in the South China Sea, which Beijing has laid claim to.
Slamming the deal, Mr Corbyn accused the UK of being complicity in starting a new Cold War.
He said Beijing would simply ramp up its own nuclear weaponry as a result.
The MP called on his supporters to “challenge” the UK’s foreign policy.
He said: “The nuclear pact with Australia, with the United States, is designed to do what? Surround China.
“The effect will be an increase in arms expenditure, it’s already been put up by £24billion in this country.
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“The effect will be pressure on the Chinese government to get more arms, to get more missiles, to get more weapons.
“There is a military-industrial complex in every country around the world and they have a self-perpetuating demand within them.
“And that will lead to what? An incident.
“An incident that will kick off into something bigger and worse, or it will lead to more proxy wars.
“The proxy wars of my lifetime, Korea, Vietnam, Central America, and so on, will be fought again somewhere else.
“And so, it is important that we challenge this whole foreign policy strategy.”
Mr Corbyn was one of the founding members of the Stop the War Coalition in 2001.
He served as chair of the organisation from 2011 to 2015.
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