The UK’s government expenditure has adapted to the increasingly tense international landscape.
UK foreign policy intends to uphold a commitment to multilateralism. This targets the Indo-Pacific, the Gulf, and Africa, as regions of growing importance to UK interests. Working with these regions on sustainable development, poverty alleviation, and tackling climate change will deepen relations as desired.
The UK seeks to strengthen relations to subside increasing global tensions, playing a more active and activist posture for Britain on the world stage. However, to ensure safety for Britain against hostile countries, the UK seeks to invest 2.5% of GDP in UK defence.
Recent Global Tensions
Increasing global tensions between states has led to a larger budget for the national security of the UK and Euro-Atlantic. Over the next few years, an additional £5 billion will be provided to the UK’s defence. These funds will primarily focus on nuclear resilience and conventional stockpiles, and continue the modernisation of armed forces.
Most significant threats to the UK are the Russian invasion of Ukraine and China’s ‘Made in China 2025’ policy, which (through illegal endeavours) attempts to rival the West’s industrial dominance.
These events threaten the creation of a world defined by danger, disorder, and division, and an international order more favourable to authoritarianism.
Foreign Policy Papers
The 2021 Integrated Review (IR2021) and Defence Command Paper underwent a review in 2023. These two policy papers reveal amended government expenditure shaped by the rapidly increasing global tensions which have occurred faster than predicted in 2021.
The updated (2023) Integrated Review Refresh (IR2023), presented in March, covers the new government expenditure responding to nuclear threats, evolving terrorism and organised crime, weaponization of resource (energy and food), and illegal annexation.
The updated (2023) Defence Command Paper, presented 18 July, focuses on leveraging the lessons learned from Ukraine into business and recovering the warfighting resilience needed to generate credible conventional deterrence. This policy paper outlines the main strategic UK defence operations funded by the updated data in IR2023.
IR2023 lays out four UK government campaigns: shaping the international environment; deterring, defending, and competing across all domains; addressing vulnerabilities through resilience; and generating strategic advantage.
These four campaigns set out the four ways in which the UK will protect its core national – the sovereignty, security, and prosperity of the British people – as well as its higher interest in an open and stable international order of enhanced cooperation and well-managed competition based on respect for the UN Charter and international law.
As outlined in IR2023, UK government fundings, which will help achieve their goals, follow the four campaigns:
1) Shape the international environment: Shape, balance, compete, and cooperate to create the conditions for an open and stable international order.
An additional sum of £20 million will fund the BBC World Service over the next two years, to protect all 42 World Service language services it provides, support English language broadcasting, and counter disinformation.
2) Deter, defend, and compete across all domains: Protect UK and wider international security against state and non-state threats, and manage the risk of escalation.
The UK will maintain their position as the second largest military donor to Ukraine, and commit £2.3 billion, just as they did in 2020, for defensive military and humanitarian aid.
£4 million will be committed over the next two years to embed the College for National Security in the national security architecture (launched through IR2021).
3) Address vulnerabilities through resilience: Strengthen the strategic vulnerabilities that leave the UK exposed to coercion and global crises.
As previously mentioned, the UK aims to invest 2.5% of GDP on defence. £5 billion additional funds will be given to the UK defence over the following few years, to strengthen nuclear power and conventional stockpiles, and modernise armed forces.
By combining the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) with a range of smaller government funds, the Government will establish a new UK Integrated Security Fund (UKISF), funded with £1 billion.
4) Generate strategic advantage: Cultivate the UK’s strengths and update our approach to statecraft to maximise our influence and freedom of action.
The UK will commit to spending £20 billion a year by 2024/25 on research and development of science and technology. This will maintain the UK’s position as one of the leading innovators in technology, such as Artificial Intelligence, which plays a critical role in the military, alongside the prosperity and security of the future.
A new Economic Deterrence Initiative will receive up to £50 million of funding over two years to maximise the impact of our trade, transport, financial sanctions, and prepare for future HMG (His Majesty's Government) operations.
These four campaigns are a summarised detail of how the UK government will achieve their overall intent, which is to “guide all relevant areas of national security, international and domestic policy and resource decisions until the next general election”.
Edited by: Anwen Venn
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