Conservative MPs today put fresh pressure on Rishi Sunak over defense money as they claimed the prime minister’s £5 billion increase to military budgets would only “fix” spending.
As part of the updated Integrated Review of Foreign and Defense Policy, the government has announced an additional £5 billion of defense spending over the next two years.
This will see £3 billion invested in nuclear enterprises – including support for the Aukus submarine project – with £1.9 billion to replenish and enhance UK ammunition stocks after Britain supplied arms to Ukraine.
The ministers also set an “aspiration” to spend 2.5 percent of GDP on defense “as financial and economic conditions permit.”
Mr Sunak, speaking on a visit to San Diego, in the US, where he is drafting the Aukus Agreement with America and Australia, today paid tribute to how Britain has been ‘one of the biggest defense spenders anywhere in the world’.
But, back in Westminster, senior Tory MPs questioned whether the new £5bn commitment was enough in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and “when the world heads towards World War Three”.
Conservative MPs have put fresh pressure on Rishi Sunak over defense money as they claim the prime minister’s £5 billion boost to military budgets will only “fix” spending
Former minister Tobias Ellwood, Tory chair of the House of Commons Defense Committee, has warned that the UK is operating on a “peacetime budget” as a new Cold War looms.
Senior Tory MP Sir Bernard Jenkin, former shadow defense secretary, warns defense funding ‘remains the specter of the holiday’
Richard Drax – another Tory member of the Defense Committee – said the new monetary commitment was not enough “as the world heads towards a third world war”.
Former minister Tobias Ellwood, Conservative chair of the House of Commons Defense Committee, has warned that the UK is running on a “peacetime budget” as a new Cold War looms.
He highlighted how the updated Integrated Review notes that “the risk of escalation is greater than at any time in decades.”
“We are sliding into a new cold war,” he told members of the House of Commons while debating the updated foreign and defense policy outline.
“Threats are increasing, but we are staying here with a peacetime budget.”
As Mr. Elwood told the government: “Please, can we go to 2.5% of GDP now.”
The senior Tory MP, Sir Bernard Jenkin, the former shadow defense secretary, warned that defense funding “remains the specter of the holiday”.
He said, “When are we going to see our armed forces return to critical mass capable of deterring the kind of aggression we see in Ukraine, the kind of aggressive policies we see from China?”
Because it looks like the £5 billion announced today will fix what we should have already spent. It won’t make much difference.
Earlier, during defense questions in the House of Commons, Richard Drax – another Tory member of the Defense Committee – said the new monetary commitment was not enough.
He told MPs: “The £5 billion is not enough to ensure that our core armed forces are adequately equipped and prepared for, God forbid, something we all fear as the world heads toward World War Three.”
“What on earth are the treasury officials having in mind?”
James Gray, fellow Tory party, said: ‘The £5bn is disappointing, especially if £3bn goes to Aukus and £1.9bn to fill our warehouses.
“It actually means cutting defense spending rather than increasing it.”
But Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said it was ‘very important’ that defense spending has been on an ‘upward trajectory’ since 2020.
“Defense spending is no longer declining as it has over the past three decades, it is on an upward trajectory,” he told MPs.
In defense of my colleagues at the Treasury, the Treasury is trying to balance the economic situation post-Covid, and that means we have to make sure we cut our clothes and make sure we get back to the economic credibility that’s so important to increasing our tax revenue. And we entered.
In an interview with BBC News Tonight in San Diego, Mr Sunak stressed that Britain was “one of a handful” of NATO members to meet the target of spending 2 per cent of GDP on defence.
Today, we are going even further, with an additional £5 billion for our armed forces, strengthening our nuclear project – so important to our future security.
But also an ambition to continue to increase defense spending to 2.5 percent in recognition of the growing threats we face. This is our record.
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