uk army

Four-year settlement goes beyond Tory manifesto pledge
Boris Johnson is to unveil a military spending spree that the government says will increase Britain's investment in defence to its highest level since the Cold War.

The £16.5bn in funding comes on top of the Conservative manifesto commitment to increase military spending by 0.5 per cent in real terms for each year of the parliament.

Downing Street claims the expenditure will contribute to about 10,000 jobs a year, and will cement the UK's position as the largest defence spender in Europe, and the second largest in Nato after the US.

Comment: Considering the dire state of the UK, none of the above is anything to boast about.

"I have taken this decision in the teeth of the pandemic because the defence of the realm must come first," the prime minister said.

"The international situation is more perilous and more intensely competitive than at any time since the Cold War and Britain must be true to our history and stand alongside our allies. To achieve this we need to upgrade our capabilities across the board.

"This is our chance to end the era of retreat, transform our armed forces, bolster our global influence, unite and level up our country, pioneer new technology and defend our people and way of life."

Comment: The UK wants to 'bolster its influence' by spending money it doesn't have on instruments of war?

The plan, to be unveiled in the House of Commons on Thursday, was reportedly approved despite Rishi Sunak's reservations. It is believed the chancellor only wanted a one-year deal for the Ministry of Defence.

The chancellor is said to be weighing up tax rises and spending cuts in the coming years due to the support provided during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, said the agreement would provide the "financial certainty we need to modernise, plan for the future and adapt to the threats we face".

"This settlement secures UK jobs and livelihoods, allows us to invest in our fantastic shipyards and aerospace industry, spreading prosperity to every corner of the UK," he said.

"Next year represents a huge opportunity for this country, and defence will be at the forefront of creating the jobs and business opportunities that will help us build back from the pandemic."

Labour's shadow defence secretary John Healey said: "This signals a welcome and long overdue upgrade to Britain's defences after a decade of decline.

"Since 2010 the size of the armed forces has been cut by a quarter, defence spending was cut by over £8 billion and the defence budget has a £13 billion black hole.

"The UK has the know-how to be a global leader in new domains such as cyber and space, as long as government plays its part."