Ben Wallace accuses Rishi Suank of trying to block extra cash for defence spending

29 July 2022, 09:49

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has accused Rishi Sunak of trying to block money for defence spending in 2019, only to find himself over-ruled by the Prime Minister.

Rishi Sunak was not in support of the multi-year defence settlement, Ben Wallace has told LBC.

The Defence Secretary, who is supporting Liz Truss in the Conservative Party leadership contest, was asked by LBC's Nick Ferrari how obstructive the former chancellor was in granting more cash to the armed forces.

Mr Wallace replied: "I don't think he was obstructive..."

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When pressed further by Nick, the Defence Secretary said: "I mean, the multi-year settlement that we got was not what the Treasury had wanted. They wanted a one-year settlement. This was back in 2019, I think. And it was vital that we got a multi-year settlement. And the Prime Minister effectively asserted his authority and made sure that's what happened."

Nick asked: "But Mr Sunak was not in support?"

Mr Wallace replied: "Not that I remember."

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The Defence Secretary told The Sun: “I’m keen that whoever is the next PM invests in defence. But the Treasury resisted the PM’s ambition for it to be 2.5 per cent.”

Mr Wallace also warned a hike is needed to counter global threats and to keep to NATO spending commitments.

Last month Boris Johnson said the UK would boost its spending in the wake of the war in Ukraine, as he warned of a “very different era” of insecurity in Europe.

Speaking from the Nato summit in Madrid, Mr Johnson welcomed the alliance’s decision to review the current defence spending target of two per cent of GDP for its members.

“Countries around the table are also recognising that they need to spend more and in our case, that means meeting and being prepared to exceed the target we set for ourselves a decade ago of everybody spending two per cent of GDP on defence,” he said.

“The goals that were then set for a very different era, and what we’re saying is that we want Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary General, to start work on that new target now and he’s agreed to do that.”

“We need to invest for the long term in vital capabilities like future combat air, while simultaneously adapting to a more dangerous and more competitive world,” he added.

“And the logical conclusion of the investments on which we propose to embark, on these decisions, is that we will reach 2.5 per cent of GDP on defence by the end of the decade.”

Britain currently spends 2.3 per cent of GDP on defence, when the budget for supporting Ukraine is included in the figure.

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