The Prime Minister is set to announce the biggest programme of investment in British defence since the end of the Cold War.
In a speech to the House of Commons, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, will set out a £16.5 billion increase above the government’s manifesto defence investment commitment over four years.
The original commitment pledged to increase defence spending by 0.5% above the inflation rate, which is currently at 0.7%, for every year of the current Parliament. This is projected to be an overall cash increase of £24.1 billion over four years compared to last year’s budget.
The increase will cement the UK’s position as the largest defence spender in Europe and the second largest in NATO.
Mr Johnson, said: “I have taken this decision in the teeth of the pandemic because the defence of the realm must come first.
“The international situation is more perilous and more intensely competitive than at any time since the Cold War and Britain must be true to our history and stand alongside our allies. To achieve this we need to upgrade our capabilities across the board.
“This is our chance to end the era of retreat, transform our Armed Forces, bolster our global influence, unite and level up our country, pioneer new technology and defend our people and way of life.”
The commitment will allow the Government to invest in cutting-edge technology, positioning the UK as a global leader in domains such as cyber and space and addressing weaknesses in the UK’s defence arsenal.
To support these advancements, the Prime Minister will also announce a new agency dedicated to Artificial Intelligence, the creation of a National Cyber Force and a new ‘Space Command’, capable of launching its first rocket in 2022.
This will be underpinned by a record investment of at least £1.5 billion extra and £5.8 billion total on military research and development and a commitment to invest further in the Future Combat Air System.
These projects are expected to create up to 10,000 thousand jobs annually across the UK, harnessing the UK’s skills in construction and science and providing a much-needed boost to those industries in the coming decades.
The Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, said: “This is excellent news for Defence, and provides us with the financial certainty we need to modernise, plan for the future and adapt to the threats we face. It demonstrates the Prime Minister’s recognition of how important Defence is to our resilience and to the reputation of the United Kingdom.
“This settlement secures UK jobs and livelihoods, allows us to invest in our fantastic shipyards and aerospace industry, spreading prosperity to every corner of the UK.
“Next year represents a huge opportunity for this country, and Defence will be at the forefront of creating the jobs and business opportunities that will help us build back from the pandemic.
“Over the next few months, I will set out in more detail our ambitious agenda for Defence.”
The announcement mark the first outcomes from the Integrated Review of the UK’s foreign, defence, development and security policy. The full conclusions of the Integrated Review will be announced in the new year.
image from Shutterstock
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