UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has demanded a new military budget of up to £11 billion to keep in line with inflation. The funding, which is under review next month, is intended to put the UK on a “war footing” in a “world [that] has become significantly more dangerous,” as an MoD source told The Times newspaper.
In December 2023, Wallace and Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, head of the armed forces, arrived at Downing Street to present their case for increased spending on the UK military that laid out the claim for the “UK military’s need for money.”
Enlisting the support of senior Conservative MPs, Wallace is demanding a massive increase to the UK military budget, as well as a halt on Prime Minister Sunak’s plans to cut armed forces, including a move to downsize the number of Army regular troops from 76,000 to 73,000 by 2025.
Funding for this budget would undoubtedly come from health care, education, welfare benefits and housing, which have already been gutted by 15 years of austerity and spikes in inflation. Nurses are forced to use food banks due to below-inflation pay raises.
Sunak’s predecessor Liz Truss pledged to raise military spending to 3% of GDP by 2030 in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. More concretely, it would have constituted an increase of £158 billion. Sunak has refused to follow Truss’s pledge saying he declined to set “arbitrary targets” for defence spending. Any future budget uplift would have to be subject to a Defence increase in funding and follow a new Defence Review led by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt.
According to “What is the current state of the British armed forces?” by Sky News journalist Saywah Mahmood, In 2021,
2.2% of the UK’s GDP was allocated to defence spending, almost £45.9bn.
Tobias Ellwood, chairman of Parliament’s Defence Select Committee and army veteran, has spoken out in favour of Wallace’s budget. In an interview with Sky News, he stated, “The army is in a dire state…. It is up to the Treasury and Number 10 to recognise the world is changing. We are now at war in Europe. We need to move to a war footing.”
This has been echoed by Nato’s former Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, retired General Sir Richard Shirreff, “Our Army has been hollowed out… we no longer have the troops, the kit or the ammunition to defend ourselves. It is a truly perilous and unforgivable situation.”
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