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Nigel Farage has warned that “woke madness” is harming the Armed Forces after The Telegraph revealed plans to relax security checks on diversity grounds.
Mr Farage, the former Brexit Party leader, claimed that diversity, equity and inclusion policies were “damaging recruitment and standards” and should be scrapped.
On Monday, Number 10 confirmed that it had stepped in to block any chance of vetting rules being watered down for overseas recruits after a backlash.
It came after a British Army document emerged that included a proposal to “challenge” security clearance requirements for “non-UK personnel”.
The dossier, entitled Race Action Plan, noted that the Army “struggles to attract talent from ethnic minority backgrounds into the officer corps”.
Grant Shapps, the Defence Secretary, launched a review of diversity policies across the Armed Forces in response to the revelations.
He told The Telegraph resources were being “squandered to promote a political agenda” and claimed the military had been infiltrated by a “woke” culture.
But posting on social media, Mr Farage said the row had erupted under the Tories and blamed them for outsourcing Army recruitment.
“The DEI agenda is damaging recruitment and standards in the Armed Forces,” he wrote. “Grant Shapps can criticise this culture all he likes, but it’s happened under the Conservatives. Thank goodness senior military figures are speaking out. Is it any wonder that we have this woke madness going on?”
Downing Street said security clearance standards for the Armed Forces would not be watered down and “remain unchanged”.
Rishi Sunak’s official spokesman said: “We are completely confident that our robust security standards are the highest possible.”
Mr Shapps has said it is “inconceivable” that he would allow the standards for vetting of any recruits into the military to be relaxed.
Tom Tugendhat, the security minister, also vowed that ideology would not be prioritised over security in the aftermath of the row over diversity policies. He said the military had “one purpose alone” and dismissed fears that “ideological requests” were being allowed to compromise national safety.