In a recent interview, the newly appointed Defence Secretary, Grant Shapps, made a significant mistake by confusing the Royal Air Force (RAF) with the Royal Navy.
During the interview, he incorrectly praised the UK’s aircraft carriers as “the largest the RAF has ever had,” when, in fact, the Royal Navy is responsible for the construction and operation of these carriers.
This confusion highlights a concerning lack of basic knowledge about the country’s military branches.
Lack of Knowledge on Army Ranks
Another notable misstep during Mr. Shapps’ media appearances was his inability to accurately state the number of ranks in the army, with the correct answer being 12.
This lack of fundamental knowledge about the military’s organizational structure raises questions about his readiness for the role of Defence Secretary.
Controversy Over TikTok Use
Grant Shapps also faced scrutiny regarding his continued use of TikTok, a Chinese-owned social media platform, despite security concerns.
While he claims not to have the app on his personal phone, he emphasized the importance of engaging with the public through the platform.
Mr. Shapps is known as one of the most active users of TikTok in Westminster, amassing nearly 15,000 followers.
Security Concerns Surrounding TikTok
TikTok was banned on government phones issued to ministers and Whitehall officials earlier due to security worries, prompted by fears of spying.
Although Mr. Shapps does not have TikTok on his personal phone and his account is managed by his staff, he has rejected calls from MPs to quit the app entirely since taking on the role of Defence Secretary.
Criticism and Calls to Abandon TikTok
Several senior Tory backbenchers, including former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, have urged Mr. Shapps to reconsider his use of TikTok, highlighting the security risks posed by the platform.
These concerns are particularly pertinent given Mr. Shapps’ high-profile government position and the potential attractiveness of his TikTok account to foreign intelligence services.
Tobias Ellwood, Chair of the House of Commons’ Defence Committee, predicted that Mr. Shapps might rethink his use of TikTok after receiving a comprehensive briefing at the Ministry of Defence.
This controversy raises questions about the balance between public engagement and national security in the digital age, and whether ministers should be active on platforms with potential security risks.