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Boris Johnson in promise to armed forces ahead of Black Country visit

By Peter Madeley | General Election 2019 | Published:

Prime Minister Boris Johnson today told the Express & Star of his determination to support the British armed forces.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson laying a poppy wreath at the Remembrance Sunday service

Mr Johnson, who was at the Remembrance Day Service in Wolverhampton on Monday morning, said he was "inspired daily" by servicemen and women.

And, writing for the Express & Star today, he said he was determined to support members of the armed forces as well as veterans.

The Conservative Party used Armistice Day to announce a series of new policy pledges.

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.

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.

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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.

The Conservative plans also include wraparound childcare for armed forces families, including breakfast clubs and after school clubs to cover early starts and late finishes for working parents of children aged 4-11.

Meanwhile a guaranteed job interview will be give for veterans for any public sector role they apply for.

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And the Tories pledged to give a tax cut for every business that employs veterans by scrapping employer National Insurance contributions for a year for every new employee who has left the armed forces.

A new rail card would also be issued for veterans, which would grant holders a third off train fares, in recognition of their service to the country.

Speaking ahead of his Black Country visit, Mr Johnson said: “As we remember the ultimate sacrifice made by our brave men and women, it is right that we renew our commitment to the soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen and veterans of today.

“These measures will mean more childcare support for those who are currently serving. And it will mean that we harness the enormous contribution that veterans can make to our businesses and public sector organisations."

Mr Johnson spoke of the importance of the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, where a special Armistice Day ceremony was today being held.

Shopping centres, schools, businesses and railway stations were also falling silent to mark the moment the First World War came to an end, 101 years ago today.

COMMENT: 'I am inspired by tales of great heroism'

Armed forces veterans deserve extra help and support, writes Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

A half-hour drive from the West Midlands, on the edge of the National Forest in Staffordshire, lies the National Memorial Arboretum.

Spread over 150 acres, home to 30,000 trees and over 300 memorials, the Arboretum is a poignant tribute to the men and women who have served in our armed forces through the ages.

A moment of quiet reflection brings home the enormity of their sacrifice.

Members of 4th Battalion, The Mercian Regiment

Today, on Armistice Day, we pause to remember what we owe to those who made the ultimate sacrifice and those who continue to risk their lives in order to keep us safe and free.

In this job, I am inspired daily by stories of great bravery and heroism from our armed forces.

Wolverhampton itself is proud home to the 4th Battalion, The Mercian Regiment and 210 Battery, 103 Regiment Royal Artillery.

One resident of Wolverhampton has a particularly remarkable story. Serving in the army aged 17, he took a gunshot wound to his foot.

His doctors said it was likely his lower leg would need to be amputated, but surgery went better than expected and his leg was saved.

Still, he was told that he would not be able to return to the army, that he would never run again and that he would require the aid of a walking stick for the rest of his life.

In training - the 4th Battalion, The Mercian Regiment

He could have been forgiven for accepting this as his fate but he didn’t.

Through a feat of extraordinary resilience he persevered and, 12 months later, he was back in full service in the Army.

He went on to serve for eight years’ in Northern Ireland and on major operations.

Now he runs his own successful small business which helps other organisations keep their employees safe abroad.

His name is Stuart Anderson and I am so proud that he is standing as the Conservative candidate in Wolverhampton South West at this election.

Stuart’s example vividly demonstrates our debt to those who serve.

Stuart Anderson who is standing as a Conservative candidate

Too often, as a country, we have not given our armed forces and veterans the help and support they so manifestly deserve.

As Prime Minister, I am determined to change that. Serving in the armed forces is particularly tough on young families.

Often moving locations, with no one place to call home and loved ones separated from each other for months on end, the strain can be severe.

At the very least, armed forces families should not have to worry about extra childcare costs from the inevitable early starts and late finishes, so we will provide free wraparound childcare through breakfast and after school clubs.

Adjusting to a new life and career after the military can be challenging.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and former prime ministers Theresa May and David Cameron during the Remembrance Sunday service at the Cenotaph memorial yesterday

It is incumbent on government to help and, if I’m elected, that’s what we will do.

Veterans have unique skills and experience to offer in the workplace, so we’ll guarantee them a job interview for every role they apply for in schools, prisons, government departments and across the whole public sector.

Businesses won’t have to pay employer National Insurance Contributions for the first year for every new Veteran they employ.

We are also committed to introducing a Veterans’ railcard to cut the cost of travelling.

These measures are just some of the ways a government led by me will support our armed forces and Veterans.

We can never fully repay our debt to those who serve, but we must do everything we to can help. As this year’s commemorations remind us once again, nothing can be more important than this.

Peter Madeley

By Peter Madeley
@P_Madeley_Star

Political Editor for the Express & Star. Responsible for local and national political stories, opinion, comment and analysis.

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