UK Prime Minister Announces Defence Spending Will Increase to 2.5 Percent by 2030

The Associated Press
By The Associated Press
April 23, 2024UK
UK Prime Minister Announces Defence Spending Will Increase to 2.5 Percent by 2030
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (L) and Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak shake hands prior to talks at the Warsaw Armoured Brigade in Warsaw, Poland, on April 23, 2024. (Henry Nicholls/Pool via AP)

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has committed the UK to spending 2.5 percent of its GDP on defence by 2030, the biggest increase in defence spending in a generation.

The prime minister made the pledge during a visit to Poland on Tuesday, confirming the defence budget would receive an additional £75 billion over the next six years as he warned that the world was “the most dangerous it has been since the end of the Cold War.”

Delivering a speech alongside NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, Mr. Sunak said “we cannot be complacent. As our adversaries align, we must do more to defend our country, our interests, and our values.

“That is why today I have announced the biggest strengthening of our national defence for a generation. We will increase defence spending to a new baseline of 2.5% of GDP by 2030—a plan that delivers an additional £75 billion for defence by the end of the decade and secures our place as by far the largest defence power in Europe.”

The prime minister added: “Today is a turning point for European security and a landmark moment in the defence of the United Kingdom. It is a generational investment in British security and British prosperity, which makes us safer at home and stronger abroad.”

Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt and Defence Secretary Grant Shapps had previously said that spending would only increase to 2.5 percent when economic conditions allow. The UK had been spending 2.28 percent of GDP on defence, higher than the 2 percent mutually agreed by NATO allies in 2014.

Autocratic States Increasingly Working Together

The prime minister’s office warned that an “axis of autocratic states” like China, Russia, and Iran are increasingly working together, posing a threat to the UK, Europe, and the wider world.

The office highlighted that the increase in defence spending was necessary as the West’s adversaries were also investing heavily in their own militaries, citing the Shahed attack drones that Iran fired at Israel last week.

The government said it will invest at least an additional £10 million over the next ten years in munitions production, ensuring the UK has rapid production capacity and stockpiles of munitions. The funding would also create “high-quality jobs” and ensure the UK was on a “war footing.”

Defence procurement will also be “radically” reformed to ensure the UK “is at the cutting edge of modern warfare technology.”

Ukraine’s Security ‘Our Security’

The UK also made a commitment to Ukraine’s defence, with the prime minister’s office saying, “Ukraine’s security is our security.”

The prime minister has pledged an additional £500 million this year for munitions, air defence, and drones to be sent to Ukraine.

The UK will also send its largest-ever single delivery of materiel to the eastern European country, including 60 boats, more than 1,600 strike and air defence missiles, more than 400 vehicles, and nearly four million rounds of small arms ammunition.

Mr. Sunak made a commitment to maintain this level of support to Kyiv for as long as it is needed, the government said.

“Defending Ukraine against Russia’s brutal ambitions is vital for our security and for all of Europe. If Putin is allowed to succeed in this war of aggression, he will not stop at the Polish border,” the prime minister said.

Preparing for War

In recent months, an increasing number of current and former leading figures in the military, government, and intelligence have said the UK and Europe must be prepared to put themselves on a war footing.

Earlier this month, Mr. Shapps said Europe is in a “pre-war” state and the continent should take its own defence more seriously, particularly urging defence allies to look beyond the 2 percent minimum defence spending commitment.

The former head of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) Sir Alex Younger has also said said Britain should consider a Sweden-style “reserve force” that can be called up during states of defence emergency, though said he did not believe this should be a “blanket conscription.”

Sir Alex suggested that preparedness for war acted as a deterrent against belligerent foreign actors, warning that we do not live in an “intrinsically safer world where democracy is intrinsically secure.”

“We seem to have convinced ourselves somehow that the advantages we have and the values that are shot through our country are kind of natural and don’t need defending and I think we’re in for a rude shock. And by contrast, if we do decide we want to defend them, the need to do so probably goes down, ” he said.

From The Epoch Times

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