Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer says defence spending commitment ‘cast iron’

Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer has said the UK has a “cast iron commitment” to spending 2.5% of national income on defence – but is still refusing to put a timeline on when the promise will be delivered. Sir Keir has travelled to Washington for the annual summit of the Nato defence alliance, less than a week after he won the general election.

He and his wife Victoria have been invited to the White House by President Joe Biden. The prime minister has said the new government will begin a review of the defence capabilities the country needs in the future, which will set out a “roadmap” to reaching the 2.5% target. At a time when we face multiple threats at home and abroad, we must make sure we are ready to defend ourselves,” Sir Keir said.

“That’s why I have immediately ordered a root-and-branch review that will secure Britain’s defences for the future. Speaking ahead of his departure to Washington, Sir Keir told reporters he was committed to spending 2.5% of GDP – a measure of the size of the economy – on defence “within our fiscal rules”. But he added: “That strategic review needs to come first.” This suggests it will not happen quickly. Pressed by journalists travelling with him to Washington on where the 2.5% pledge stood in his priority list of spending, he said: “The defence and security of the nation… is the first priority of government. That is well understood by me.

The prime minister added that the strategic review was “wider than the money question, it is obviously looking at the challenges that we face, the capabilities and making sure that the two match”. Speaking on the BBC’s Today programme, Minister for the Armed Forces Luke Pollard said the defence review would take place next week and needed to happen before a timeline was confirmed.

He said: “That’s partly why the defence review next week is so important, because we need to set out what the sequence of any increased spending will look like to make sure that we get there.” When asked whether defence spending would be directly linked to economic growth, Mr Pollard responded that growing the economy was “non-negotiable”.

He added: “If we don’t grow our economy there won’t be the money to support those public services and the ambitions that we have, and that includes defence – and defence in itself can help that growth mission.
During the election campaign, the Conservatives pledged to reach 2.5% by 2030 and criticised Labour for not matching their commitment. Labour has insisted it will hit the target when the nation’s finances allow.
Nato members have pledged to spend at least 2% of their GDP on defence by 2024 – but many are falling short of the target.

Source: BBC

In other news –  UK hopes to recoup cash from scrapped Rwanda scheme

The government will be looking carefully at what money can and cannot be recouped after it scrapped the Rwanda deportation scheme, Downing Street has said.

Rwanda scheme

A No 10 spokesperson said any savings would be redirected to a new Border Security Command to tackle small boat crossings. The Rwandan government said it had “fully upheld its side of the agreement”. Read more

Back to top button