Julian Lewis

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Julian Lewis

Rt Hon Dr Julian Lewis MP.jpg
Chair of the Defence Select Committee
Assumed office
17 June 2015
Preceded byRory Stewart
Member of Parliament
for New Forest East
Assumed office
1 May 1997
Preceded byConstituency Created
Majority21,995 (42.8%)
Personal details
Born
Julian Murray Lewis

(1951-09-26) 26 September 1951 (age 67)
Swansea, Glamorgan, Wales
NationalityBritish
Political partyConservative
Alma mater
Websitewww.julianlewis.net

Julian Murray Lewis (born 26 September 1951) is a Conservative Party politician in the United Kingdom, who has been Member of Parliament (MP) for New Forest East in Hampshire since the 1997 general election.[1] Lewis is a supporter of the Eurosceptic group Leave Means Leave.[2]

Education, activism and early career[edit]

Born in Swansea, into a Jewish family and son of a tailor and designer, Lewis was educated at Dynevor Grammar School and then at Balliol College, Oxford, receiving a BA, later promoted to MA, in Philosophy and Politics. He studied as a postgraduate at St Antony's College, Oxford, being awarded the DPhil in Strategic Studies in 1981.

In 1976, with secret funding from The Freedom Association, he posed as a Labour Party moderate and briefly won control of Newham North East Constituency Labour Party, in an eventually unsuccessful attempt to reverse the deselection of the sitting MP, Reg Prentice, and in order to highlight Militant Tendency entryism in the Labour Party.[3][4][5] Prentice himself later joined the Conservatives.[3]

Lewis was a leading opponent of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and other Left-wing organisations, throughout the 1980s. From 1981–1985, he was Research Director of the Coalition for Peace through Security. From 1985, he has been Director of Policy Research Associates. In Parliament, he actively pursues the retention and renewal of the British strategic nuclear deterrent, the UK Trident programme - confirmed in 2016 - and campaigns for Defence expenditure to be restored to 3% of GDP.

With fellow Conservative John Bercow – later elected Speaker of the House of Commons – he ran an Advanced Speaking and Campaigning course for more than ten years, which trained more than 600 Conservatives (including several current MPs) in campaigning and communication techniques.

From 1990 until 1996, he was a Deputy Director of the Research Department at Conservative Central Office, but resigned to campaign against Britain joining the single European currency before opposition to the Euro was officially adopted by the Conservative Party.

In a lecture to former Dynevor School pupils in May 2017, Lewis set out details of his background, his path into politics and his overall conclusions about Parliamentary life.[6]

Parliamentary career[edit]

He contested Swansea West at the 1983 general election. As MP for New Forest East, he successfully opposed the development of a large container port at Dibden Bay, between Marchwood and Hythe, and waged other high-profile local campaigns. In Parliament, he was a Shadow Defence Minister from 2002 to 2004 and from 2005 to 2010, also serving as Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office from 2004 to 2005, and as an Opposition Whip from 2001 to 2002. Before joining the Front Bench, he was a Member of the Defence Select Committee and the Welsh Select Committee, and had also been elected to the Executive of the Conservative Party's 1922 Committee.

With the creation of the Liberal-Conservative Coalition as a result of the election of a hung parliament in 2010, the post which he had shadowed (Minister for the Armed Forces) was allocated to the Liberal Democrat Defence spokesman, Nick Harvey MP.[7] Lewis was appointed as a member of Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee in September 2010.[8] He has also been a Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Friends of Poland.[9]

Julian Lewis has been described by The Daily Telegraph as "one of the most vigorous rightwingers in the Commons" and by The Guardian as the Conservative Party's "front bench terrier". He was one of the Frontbenchers & Backbenchers of the Year chosen by commentators on the ConservativeHome website, in December 2009[10] and December 2010[11] respectively.

His constituency casework has always been carried out by correspondence, telephone and surgery appointments, but not by e-mail, which he describes as "inefficient, insecure and open to abuse".[12]

In May 2014, he was one of eight candidates for the chairmanship of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee, coming second with 212 votes to the eventual winner's 226. Lewis had been in the lead in four of the seven stages of this Alternative Vote election.[13] He was elected as a member of the Defence Select Committee at a by-election in October 2014, whilst remaining on the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament.

In March 2015, he was appointed to the Privy Council of the United Kingdom and therefore granted the title The Right Honourable.[14]

In June 2015, he was elected to the Chair of the Commons Defence Select Committee by 314 votes to 242, and in July 2017 he was re-elected to this position, in the new Parliament, by 305 votes to 265.[15][16][17]

MPs' home addresses[edit]

From May to July 2008, Lewis initiated and organised the successful campaign to change the Freedom of Information Act in order that a High Court ruling, obtained by a journalist on The Sunday Telegraph, that 14 MPs' home addresses should be published, could never be repeated in respect of any other Parliamentarians.[18] More than 250 backbenchers from all parties, as well as members of the Government and the Shadow Cabinet, supported this campaign.[19]

In March 2009, his amendment to the Political Parties and Elections Bill was carried by a majority of 59.[20] It removed the requirement for general election candidates to disclose their home addresses on nomination and ballot papers, and was upheld by a majority of 72 when the Bill went through the House of Lords in July 2009.[21] In both Houses, Labour and Conservatives were granted Free Votes on the Lewis Amendment, and Liberal Democrats were whipped to vote against it.[citation needed]

Expenses[edit]

Although Julian Lewis was repeatedly listed[22] as amongst the lowest-claiming MPs (ranked 566th out of 647 in 2008/09), The Sunday Telegraph alleged in May 2009 that he had tried to claim the £6,000 cost of a wooden floor in his second home. He maintained that: “At no stage did I claim for the flooring and it did not cost the taxpayer a penny.” A senior Commons official confirmed that, by seeking advice in advance about second home expenditure, he had acted "in accordance with best practice as recommended by this department" and that "it is not true that you attempted to claim £6,000 in expenses for a wooden floor at your second home."

At the end of June 2009, Lewis was informed by the Conservative Party's Scrutiny Panel, after examination of his expenses claims, that "we do not require you to answer any queries about them and there is no requirement for any repayments to be made", and The Daily Telegraph's subsequent book entitled No Expenses Spared made no reference to any which Lewis had claimed.

Selected political issues[edit]

In November 2007, Lewis resigned his life membership of the Oxford Union debating society, after 37 years, in protest at its decision to invite Holocaust denier David Irving and Nick Griffin, the leader of the British National Party, to be speakers at one of its events.[23]

In April 2010, he was asked why he had opposed lowering the age of consent for homosexual relationships, eleven years earlier, in 1999. He stated that this had been because of his belief that the decision to incur any extra risk of contracting HIV should be taken on reaching the current age of majority, namely 18. He added that he had twice voted voluntarily in favour of the Civil Partnership Bill - at Second and Third Readings, on 12 October and 9 November 2004, respectively.

In December 2010, he attacked, and was one of six Conservative MPs who voted against Coalition proposals to increase student tuition fees from a maximum of £3,000 to a maximum of £9,000 per year, on the grounds that this would deter the less well-off from going to university.[24]

In February 2011, he strongly opposed, and was one of three Conservative MPs who voted against, Coalition plans to transfer heritage forests from public ownership to trusts.[25] The plans were later disowned by the Government and abandoned.[26]

In October 2011, he was one of 81 Conservative rebels who voted in favour of a referendum on the UK's membership of the European Union and, in October 2012, he was one of 53 Conservative rebels voting to demand a real-terms cut in the EU budget. Both policies were later adopted by the party leadership.[citation needed]

In July 2012, he was one of 91 Conservatives who successfully blocked Coalition plans to replace the House of Lords with a second chamber of party politicians elected by proportional representation.[27]

In January 2013, with the assistance of MPs from both sides of the nuclear weapons argument, Lewis secured and introduced the first debate in the Commons chamber on Trident since the vote to approve its retention and renewal in March 2007.[28]

From May 2013 onwards, he strongly opposed arming the rebels in the Syrian civil war, arguing that Assad's chemical weapons would pose a deadly threat to the West if they fell into the hands of jihadists fighting on the side of the opposition.[29] On 29 August, the Coalition Government's motion in support of the principle of military intervention was defeated by just 13 votes.[30] Julian Lewis spoke and voted against the Government's motion.[31]

In November 2013, Lewis was one of 16 Eurosceptic Conservative MPs to support an amendment to the European Union (Referendum) Bill, which - if carried - would have required an "in/out" referendum to be held before, rather than after, the scheduled 2015 general election;[32] and in November 2014 he was one of only 28 Eurosceptic Conservative MPs to vote against the UK opting to rejoin the European Arrest Warrant regime.

In December 2015, before[33] and during the debate on bombing Daesh in Syria, Lewis challenged the Prime Minister's claim that there were 70,000 "moderate" Syrian fighters opposing ISIL in Iraq, describing the figure as "magical" and quoting expert commentators' views that the "Free Syrian Army" contained many Islamists.[34] Stating that "instead of having dodgy dossiers [as in the 2003 Iraq conflict] we now have bogus battalions of moderate fighters",[35] Lewis argued that "Once Daesh has been driven out … an Occupying Power will have to remain in control for many years to come … and only the Syrian Government Army is likely to provide it … Airstrikes alone are a dangerous diversion and distraction. What is needed is a grand military alliance involving not only the West but Russia and, yes, its Syrian Government clients too … We need to choose the lesser of two evils and abandon the fiction of a cosy third choice" between "very nasty authoritarians and Islamist totalitarians".[36] He voted against extending airstrikes against ISIL into Syria, in the absence of "credible ground forces",[37] after his widely reported speech.[38]

In February 2016, at the start of the referendum campaign on British membership of the European Union, Lewis set out his six main reasons for voting to leave,[39] and in the main Commons debate on whether to trigger Article 50, after the Referendum vote to leave, his entire speech consisted of just 17 words: "Thank you, Mr Speaker. In my opinion, the people have decided, and I'm going to vote accordingly".[40]

In January 2017, in a televised Speaker's House lecture, Lewis stated his belief in the unpredictability of future conflicts; the value of nuclear deterrence; and the role of containment in long-term ideological struggles. He called for three per cent of GDP to be spent on Defence, and for a Statute of Limitations to be enacted "covering everything that took place before the Belfast Agreement", in order to protect Service veterans from legal harassment. Lewis also criticised media suggestions that the next NATO Secretary-General should be David Cameron, given his unsatisfactory record of "toppling Arab dictators in places like Libya, increasing military commitments whilst cutting the Armed Forces, predicting a Third World War in consequence of Brexit, [and] dangerously delaying the renewal of Trident for the sake of Coalition politics".[41]

Defence Committee Inquiries[edit]

Among notable Inquiry reports[42] produced under the chairmanship of Julian Lewis have been:

Shifting the Goalposts? Defence Expenditure and the 2% Pledge, published in April 2016, which concluded that the Government had met the minimum 2% NATO guideline only by counting "several significant items not previously included when calculating defence expenditure", although doing so in accordance with NATO rules. The report set out, in detailed Annexes, the decline in UK expenditure on Defence as a proportion of GDP since the mid-1950s in comparison with that on Welfare, Health and Education. It also led to the subsequent adoption by the Defence Committee of a target of 3% of GDP to be spent on Defence, as in the mid-1990s.[43]

An Acceptable Risk? The Use of Lariam by Military Personnel, published in May 2016, which led to a significant reduction in the use of the anti-malarial drug mefloquine, and to the enforcement of stringent requirements before its prescription, on account of possible severe side-effects in some cases.[44]

UK Military Operations in Syria and Iraq, published in September 2016, which revealed the great disparity between the large number of airstrikes being carried out in Iraq, where the UK was campaigning in support of substantial indigenous government ground forces, and the far lower total undertaken in Syria, where the UK could find only limited ground forces to support.[45]

Open Source Stupidity - The Threat to the BBC Monitoring Service, published in December 2016, which strongly criticised the BBC's plan to close the dedicated headquarters of the Monitoring Service at Caversham Park, condemned the UK Government's previous decision to end its ring-fenced grant for the Service which had led to this outcome, and predicted that a state-owned Open Source Information Agency might eventually have to be established.[46]

Investigations into Fatalities in Northern Ireland involving British Military Personnel, published in April 2017, which recommended the enactment of a Statute of Limitations coupled with a truth-recovery process as the best way to prevent the legal persecution of UK Service, Police and Security Personnel, decades after the events in question, whilst offering the best prospect of finding out what had actually happened during the Troubles.[47]

Sunset for the Royal Marines? The Royal Marines and Amphibious Capability, published in February 2018, which excoriated the heavily-trailed suggestion that the amphibious assault ships, HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark, would be deleted from the Fleet 15 years early as part of the National Security Capability Review. The report described the proposal as "a short-sighted, militarily illiterate manoeuvre totally at odds with strategic reality". After wide publicity, the plan was abandoned and the capability was saved.[48]

Rash or Rational? North Korea and the Threat it Poses, published in April 2018, which concluded that Kim Jong-un is "ruthless, like other Communist dictators before him, but he is rational" and can be "dissuaded from the use of nuclear weapons by means of a policy of deterrence and containment" though "unlikely to give them up now".[49]

Lost in Translation? Afghan Interpreters and other Locally Employed Civilians, published in May 2018, which recommended "a looser and more sympathetic approach" to admitting threatened interpreters to the UK, given that it "is impossible to reconcile the generosity of the Redundancy Scheme with the utter failure of the Intimidation Scheme to relocate even a single LEC to the United Kingdom". Subsequently, some liberalisation of the Intimidation Scheme was implemented.[50]

Beyond 2 per cent: A Preliminary Report on the Modernising Defence Programme, published in June 2018, which backed the removal of Defence from the "fiscally neutral" National Security Capability Review process - with its threats to impose further cuts on the Armed Forces, such as the deletion of the amphibious assault ships. The report recommended a financial settlement "based on a level of Defence expenditure approaching the figure of 3% of GDP", which would demonstrate that the mantra "Defence is the first duty of Government" could finally be believed.[51]

As well as those carried out by the full Defence Committee under his chairmanship, in 2015 Lewis initiated an arrangement for the Defence Sub-Committee to undertake separate individual inquiries chaired in turn by other members of the Defence Committee. Between 2016 and 2018 the Sub-Committee produced reports on military exercise deaths,[52] the Iraq Historic Allegations Team[53] and Defence in the Arctic.[54]

In February 2018, Julian Lewis and his French counterpart Jean-Jacques Bridey agreed to launch a joint Inquiry by their respective committees into the UK-France future cruise/anti-ship weapon project. It was the first joint Inquiry to be held by a House of Commons Committee and a Committee of a non-UK legislature and reported in December 2018.[55]

Military writings[edit]

A second edition of his 1988 book Changing Direction: British Military Planning for Post-war Strategic Defence, 1942-1947 was published in 2003 and a university paperback edition in 2008.[56]

His essay on Nuclear Disarmament versus Peace in the 21st Century[57] won the Trench Gascoigne Prize[58] of the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI) in 2005.[59] Two years later, Lewis won this prize for a second time,[60] with an essay entitled Double-I, Double-N: A Framework for Counter-Insurgency.[61]

His 10,000-word dissertation on The Future of the British Nuclear Deterrent was selected for an award and for publication as a Seaford House Paper by the Royal College of Defence Studies of which he was a Parliamentary member in 2006.[62]

In February 2009, the RUSI Journal published Soldiers against the Bomb? - his essay detailing the principal military and political arguments for retaining the UK nuclear deterrent, in response to a letter in The Times by three retired Generals.[63]

Also published in 2009, was a commentary by Lewis written as the Foreword to a translation and analysis, by US military academic Dr Norman Cigar, of an Al-Qaida terrorist's handbook.[64]

Lewis's own most recent book, published in 2011, is a military biography Racing Ace - The Fights and Flights of "Kink" Kinkead DSO DSC* DFC*, published in 2011, recounting the adventurous life of a pioneering airman whose grave he found in his constituency.[65][66]

His critique of strategy in Afghanistan International Terrorism - The Case for Containment[67] was published in the US military journal Joint Force Quarterly in April 2012.[68] In December that year, the RUSI Journal published his review article on the ideological fight against Islamist extremism, entitled Countering Terrorism is not Enough.[69]

The dangers of another Middle Eastern military intervention - to help overthrow Assad in Syria - were spelt out by Lewis on the ConservativeHome website in June 2013.[70]

In May 2014, the RUSI Journal published The Slow Boat to Unilateralism, an analysis by Lewis of Liberal Democrat policy on the British strategic nuclear deterrent after the completion of the Trident Alternatives Review.[71]

As part of the events marking the centenary of World War I, he delivered a lecture on Politics and the First World War in May 2015,[72] and in November that year, together with fellow MP Adam Holloway, he wrote to all members of the House of Commons welcoming the proposal to bomb ISIL/DAESH - rather than the Syrian Government forces - as a "step in the right direction", but opposing any air campaign in the absence of a realistic strategy on the ground.[73]

During the EU Referendum campaign, in May 2016, The Daily Telegraph published an 'op-ed' article by Lewis arguing that Far from Keeping Britain Safe, the EU is a Threat to Peace,[74] and in January 2017 he delivered the first in that year's Speaker's Lecture series with a presentation on The Future of the Armed Forces.[75]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
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for New Forest East

1997–present
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