UK defence spending is top priority, says Mordaunt

Defence spending is a top priority for the UK government as it vows to “double down” on its support for Ukraine, Penny Mordaunt, the leader of the House of Commons said on Sunday.

The former defence secretary said the government must give Ukraine “the tools to finish the job”, while also ensuring the UK has the resources to do that.

“We have always protected defence spending”, she insisted. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has urged the world to keep supporting Ukraine. Speaking on Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, Ms Mordaunt said during this “critical time” in the war between Russia and Ukraine, defense spending must be protected.

She was challenged on how the government planned to both “double down” on its support of arms and training to Ukraine, whilst also dealing with budget cuts because of inflation.

Ms Mordaunt answered by saying the government has “made commitments that we are going to increase defence spending. But she added that confirmation of any increases would not come until the announcement of the chancellor’s Budget in March.

Ms Mordaunt pointed out that “in recent history” the government wanted to hike defence spending by as much as 3%.

Speaking about the UK’s commitment to supporting Ukraine and how that tallies with the defence budget, she said: “We now have to give Ukraine the tools to finish that job. We’re going to be giving them more support than all of last year in just the next few months.

“We have to do that. And of course we’re going to be ensuring we have the resources to do that.” She added that the current Defence Secretary Ben Wallace had the task of “not just keeping everything going and obviously supporting Ukraine” but also of modernising the armed forces.

“That means we’ve almost got to double run. We’ve got to rebuild these new technologies but also keep our current operations very strong”, she said.

Ben Wallace: We need to invest in defence properly. Asked whether the UK would send fighter jets to Ukraine – something Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been calling for – Ms Mordaunt said “nothing is off the table” when it came to which equipment the UK would supply to Ukraine.

But she added that while it had not been ruled out, considerations of what would be best for Ukraine in both the short term and the long term needed to be considered.

Earlier this month, Mr. Wallace said there would be no immediate transfer of equipment such as fighter jets to Ukraine.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, Mr Sunak said he would support any countries ready to send fighter jets to Ukraine now and emphasised that the UK government was already “leading” the training of Ukrainian fighter jet pilots.

Despite inflation and military budget cuts in the past, the UK has been one of the biggest suppliers of arms to Ukraine in its war against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invading forces.

Source: BBC

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