Sunak to boost defence spending by £5bn to tackle world "defined by danger" amid Russia and China threats

13 March 2023, 17:54 | Updated: 13 March 2023, 18:49

Rishi Sunak warned of the growing threat of Russia and China
Rishi Sunak warned of the growing threat of Russia and China. Picture: Getty

By Chay Quinn

Rishi Sunak will boost UK defence spending by £5 billion to prevent the world becoming "defined by danger", Downing Street has announced.

The Prime Minister announced the move in San Diego while meeting with US President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

He also said that Britain will aim to increase defence spending to 2.5 percent of GDP as part of the Integrated Review Refresh 2023 which takes aim at Russia and China as challenges to British security over the next decades.

The extra funds will be primarily used to replace ammunition stocks which have been given to Ukraine to arm its defence against Russia's invasion.

Money will also be used to fund the joint AUKUS submarine project which will provide Australia with new nuclear submarines - to bolster the Western presence in the South Pacific region.

While explicitly noting China as a threat to UK economic security, the review stops short of former PM Liz Truss's promise to label Beijing as a threat explicitly.

This less-strong rhetoric is likely to anger China hawks in the Conservative Party - and the £5bn boost is also reportedly less than half of what was requested by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace in the review.

Rishi Sunak Attends San Diego AUKUS Meeting
Rishi Sunak Attends San Diego AUKUS Meeting. Picture: Getty

Russia, on the other hand, was designated a threat with the Prime Minister making clear that he is determined to not let Vladimir Putin gain any advantage from the invasion of Ukraine.

Earlier today, General Sir Peter Wall spoke to Nick Ferrari at Breakfast on LBC to discuss the reduction in resources for the military, saying all three of the armed forces have seen cutbacks.

Former Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon told Andrew Marr on LBC that he thought the pledged rise to spend 2.5% on defence was still relatively low compared to previous levels.

Sir Michael said that before 9/11, defence spending levels were as high as 2.7% in a comparably safer time and that the NATO commitment of 2% of GDP to spent on defence was "always a floor, not a ceiling".

Former defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon told Andrew Marr on LBC that he thought that the aim to spend 2.5% of GDP on defence was still comparatively low compared to pre-2001 levels
Former defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon told Andrew Marr on LBC that he thought that the aim to spend 2.5% of GDP on defence was still comparatively low compared to pre-2001 levels. Picture: LBC

Sir Peter noted the 2010 Defence Review which showed significant reductions in resources for the British Armed services, the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force.

When asked by Nick if he believed he saw a ‘hollowed out’ military Sir Peter said it was certainly ‘trending in that direction’.

This refers to a reduction in first-line capability but also “reductions in logistics support, resilience and maintenance of equipment."

Putin and an advisor
Russia, on the other hand, was designated a threat with the Prime Minister making clear that he is determined to not let Vladimir Putin gain any advantage from the invasion of Ukraine. Picture: Getty

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He went on to say the Ukraine War highlights “contrary to twenty-first-century expectations” armed forces still need “vast stocks of ammunition” and that we "cannot rely on the most sophisticated weapons."

“Against that backdrop, our military at the moment certainly is hollowed out, yes.”

Nick then asked if there was concern the war in Ukraine would deplete resources in the UK.To which Sir Peter replied “very much so” and that we are “on the horns of a dilemma.”

He explained that by giving equipment to Ukraine to “fight on our behalf” in the "promotion and protection of Western values," we are depleting our own resources when “they are already not very big and intended to get smaller.”

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