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Jeremy Corbyn: Let taxpayers opt out of funding the Army

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British taxpayers should be allowed to opt out of funding the Army, Jeremy Corbyn once proposed in an idea former generals have called “stark-starring bonkers”. The Labour leadership front-runner suggested voters should be able to act with their “conscience” and order the Treasury not spend their tax money on soldiers. Britain’s leading former generals warned the “corrosive” idea could undermine public support for soldiers and was “absolutely ludicrous”.

It has emerged after Mr Corbyn triggered a backlash by saying he couldn t think of a situation in which he would deploy troops. Asked in what circumstances he would back deploying British troops, Mr Corbyn said: I’m sure there are some. But I can’t think of them at the moment.”

The comments, which came during a Channel 4 debate between the Labour leadership rivals, have put Mr Corbyn s views on defence back in the spotlight.

[embedded content] During a House of Commons debate in 1999, the Islington North MP proposed letting people opt out of giving tax revenue to the Army

What policy is adopted by his Department in respect of taxpayers who do not wish to pay certain elements of taxation on grounds of conscience, he asked Treasury ministers on June 24. Mr Corby continued: British taxpayers have a right of conscience not to participate in the armed forces in time of conscription and should have a similar right in time of peace to ensure that part of their tax goes to peace, not war.

The suggestion came with Kosovo beginning to rebuild after the destruction of war and as the Italian Parliament was considering similar legislation. However the suggestion was criticised by Alan Milburn, then-chief secretary to the Treasury, who said undermine funding in the Armed Forces. Former leading generals have told The Telegraph the idea is corrosive and warned of the impact his victory in the Labour leadership race would have on defence policy.

Admiral Lord West, the former First Sea Lord, called the idea stark-staring bonkers . The great joy of the Armyrats © military is that they stop war from happening by showing you are willing to fight, he said.

To think that you can be selective as a member of the public and say I will pay for this, I won t pay for that because I don t want them to fight anybody is just absolutely ludicrous. He added that the completely ridiculous suggestion was simply playing to the gallery and was impractical nonsense.

Jeremy Corbyn: Let Taxpayers Opt Out Of Funding The Army

Lord Dannatt, former Chief of the General Staff, said: If it is given too much credence it could become corrosive. It can be given too much air time.

If it was an idea that really caught on it could be interpreted as undermining supported for the Armed Forces. But at the moment it is quite a small minority view. Mr Corbyn chairs the Stop the War campaign and has campaigned for peace throughout his decades on the Labour backbenches.

Since being thrust to the front of the Labour leadership contest Mr Corbyn s links to extremists and anti-Semites which he says is part of the dialogue needed to secure peace in the Middle East have drawn criticism. This week David Cameron indicated any plans to join air strikes on Isil in Syria would be delayed should Mr Corbyn win the leadership on September 12 as consensus was needed. A spokesman for Mr Corbyn said: Jeremy believes the government should increase spending on peace building and decrease spending on war.

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