Largest military investment in 30 years announced
Prime Minister is announcing a £16.5 billion increase above the manifesto commitment over four years for the Ministry of Defence.
Dubbed as the biggest programme of investment in British defence since the end of the Cold War, the government says that the funding ‘will protect our citizens, help us build back better from coronavirus by creating thousands of new jobs and demonstrate to our allies they can always count on the UK’.
The size of the spending increase recognises the need for the UK’s defence forces to undertake a generational modernisation programme in order to defend the UK, our allies and the world’s most vulnerable people. This includes bettering our defences in cyber space.
The £16.5 billion extra in the Ministry of Defence’s budget over the next four years is the amount over and above the manifesto commitment, representing roughly a ten per cent increase. Based on forecasts of inflation, the government said it expects the Ministry of Defence to get a total overall increase of about £24.1 billion over four years, compared with last year's budget.
The pledge cements the UK’s position as the largest defence spender in Europe and the second largest in NATO.
Alongside the spending announcement, the Prime Minister is also revealing a new agency dedicated to Artificial Intelligence, the creation of a National Cyber Force to protect our people from harm and a new ‘Space Command’, capable of launching our first rocket in 2022. This will be underpinned by a record investment of at least £1.5 billion extra and £5.8 billion total on military research and development and a commitment to invest further in the Future Combat Air System.
Johnson said: “I have taken this decision in the teeth of the pandemic because the defence of the realm must come first. The international situation is more perilous and more intensely competitive than at any time since the Cold War and Britain must be true to our history and stand alongside our allies. To achieve this we need to upgrade our capabilities across the board. This is our chance to end the era of retreat, transform our Armed Forces, bolster our global influence, unite and level up our country, pioneer new technology and defend our people and way of life.”
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “This is excellent news for defence, and provides us with the financial certainty we need to modernise, plan for the future and adapt to the threats we face. It demonstrates the Prime Minister’s recognition of how important defence is to our resilience and to the reputation of the United Kingdom.
“This settlement secures UK jobs and livelihoods, allows us to invest in our fantastic shipyards and aerospace industry, spreading prosperity to every corner of the UK. Next year represents a huge opportunity for this country, and defence will be at the forefront of creating the jobs and business opportunities that will help us build back from the pandemic. Over the next few months I will set out in more detail our ambitious agenda for defence.”