More tax cuts still on despite record defence spending boost, Rishi Sunak insists

24 April 2024, 16:20 | Updated: 24 April 2024, 18:49

Rishi Sunak said he has made a choice to "prioritise defence".
Rishi Sunak said he has made a choice to "prioritise defence". Picture: Alamy
Natasha Clark

By Natasha Clark

Rishi Sunak has vowed to continue to cut taxes and protect the NHS budget, despite splurging billions more on defence.

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The PM told LBC that he would not shy away from difficult decisions on what could be cut to pay for it.

He insisted that record investment in the NHS and schools was not going to change.

However, when grilled on what he wanted to ditch in an upcoming Tory manifesto he declined to say public services elsewhere wouldn't be on the chopping block.

The PM yesterday announced plans to hike defence spending to 2.5 per cent of GDP by 2030.

It will mean spending an extra £75 billion by the end of the decade.

The government has said some £3 billion a year will come from cutting the civil service by 70,000 jobs.

And some will come from diverting research budgets into the Ministry of Defence.

But they haven't laid out where the rest will come from.

Natasha's question to the Prime Minister

The PM told LBC in Berlin: "We have record investment in our public services, including the NHS, that’s not going to change, it's going to continue.

"We have record investment in our schools, that’s not going to change, it's going to continue to increase.

"And alongside that we are able to cut peoples taxes."

He admitted "we have made a choice" and he would be "not shying away from that choice", adding "all governing is about prioritising. I have decided to prioritise defence because I think that is the right thing to do for our country".

Mr Sunak used the press conference to hail a new chapter in Britain's partnership with Germany.

And he said that defence spending in Europe had to increase from all nations, and they should not rely on America to fund it all.

Read more: Sunak puts Britain on ‘war footing’ as he pledges £75 billion boost to defence spending by 2030

Read more: Rishi Sunak refuses to rule out July election after Rwanda bill passes

Rishi Sunak and Olaf Scholz shake hands during a joint press conference
Rishi Sunak and Olaf Scholz shake hands during a joint press conference. Picture: Alamy

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz dodged questions on whether he would meet the 2.5 per cent target too - the nation is only just meeting the Nato current target of 2 per cent.

He also insisted he wouldn't be changing his mind on supplying Ukraine with the Taurus weapons systems they wanted, saying: "I'd remind you that we make possible a large part of Ukraine's air defence... As far as the weapon system you mention is concerned, my decision will not change."

The German Chancellor also declined to get into whether he wanted to see a similar Rwanda style deal for their nation.

The country is also grappling with irregular migration issues.

He said the country had "major challenges" but migration was needed for economic growth.

He said: "Germany is a country that sees economic growth and will see economic growth in future years as well. So we depend on immigration.

"At the same time, we see the challenge of  irregular and illegal migration. Many pieces of legislation have been changed.

"There are some individual regulations that have been changed, which is necessary for us to succeed.... we made progress and we did deliver... the decisions have been prepared and from a German perspective, these are necessary for managing illegal migration."

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