Rishi Sunak boasted that the army is getting “everything they need” today as he confirmed a £5bn increase in defense spending.
The prime minister revealed the extra money when he visited San Diego for talks with Joe Biden and Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese about the AUKUS nuclear submarine deal.
However, the financial bump is only about half what Defense Secretary Ben Wallace had called for – and Mr Sunak has only set a vague target of increasing spending to 2.5% of GDP, rather than the 3% many demand.
Former head of the British Army, General Sir Richard Dannatt, accused Sunak of acting like “an ostrich” with his head in the sand about the dangers facing the country.
Meanwhile, the prime minister struggles to contain Tory unrest over a new Integrated Review of security to be released today, which will contain relatively limited criticism of China.
Mr Sunak said the military is now enjoying the largest sustained increase in funding since the Cold War
Mr Sunak met Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese after arriving in San Diego overnight
Unveiling a £5bn cash injection for the Ministry of Defence, the Prime Minister said the UK must prepare to ‘hold its ground’ in an increasingly hostile world
Unveiling a £5bn cash injection for the Ministry of Defence, the Prime Minister said the UK must prepare to ‘hold its ground’ in an increasingly hostile world.
Mr Sunak said the military is now enjoying the largest sustained increase in funding since the Cold War.
He set a target of increasing Britain’s military spending to 2.5 percent of national income, and sources said he hoped to achieve this by the end of the decade.
Both Liz Truss and Jeremy Hunt pledged a 3 percent level during the Tory leadership campaign last summer.
Ministers will today publish a new integrated review of Britain’s foreign and defense policy to face the growing threat posed by Russia, China and other hostile states.
Speaking to reporters ahead of a US-hosted defense summit in San Diego, Mr Sunak said the size of the extra money, at a time of tight budgets, was a “very strong and positive statement about our aspirations.”
He added: ‘As the world becomes more volatile and competition between states intensifies, the UK must be ready to hold its own.
“We have seen all too clearly over the past year how global crises affect our home, with Russia’s horrific invasion of Ukraine driving up energy and food resources.
“We will strengthen our national defenses, from economic security to technological supply chains and intelligence expertise, to ensure we are never again vulnerable to the actions of a hostile power.”
Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said in October it was “necessary” to reach spending levels of 3 percent by the end of the decade. It was reported at the time that he was willing to resign over the issue.
But the move would have cost a whopping £157bn and was deemed too expensive. He also warned that the military has been “eroded” by years of austerity.
General Dannatt told the Sun: “This administration is starting to look like an ostrich when it comes to defense spending.
“The parallels with the 1930s are growing stronger – a threat from a dictator in Europe and a refusal to reinvest or rearm.”
The Defense Department stressed that Wallace was “delighted with the settlement, especially in these difficult economic times.”
The money will be paid out over two years. Nearly £2bn will be spent replenishing missiles and ammunition depleted by donations to Ukraine.
Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said in October that hitting a 3 percent spending level by the end of the decade was ‘necessary’
However, there seems to be little or no money to bolster troop numbers.
The defense assessment identifies the Russian invasion of Ukraine as the “first and foremost” risk to national security.
It also includes measures to counter the “era-defining challenge of the Chinese Communist Party’s increasingly worrying military, financial and diplomatic activities.”
In addition, ministers will publish a ‘critical mineral strategy’ to strengthen supply chains for rare elements needed in high-tech applications.
Mr Sunak said the funding would ‘ensure that our armed forces have everything they need in the short term’, as well as boost capabilities in the long term.