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All NATO countries must match the UK's defense spending target, says Shapps Defense policy

All NATO countries must match the UK's defense spending target, says Shapps  Defense policy

 


All NATO countries must increase their defense spending to 2.5% of their GDP to meet the demands of a more dangerous world, the UK's defense secretary said.

Grant Shapps said the prime minister would make the case at NATO's 75th anniversary summit in Washington DC this summer, after admitting that while the UK was the biggest defense spender in real terms in Europe, Poland, Greece, Estonia and Hungary all spent more as a share of GDP.

Shapps told Sky News on Wednesday: We were saying now we think it should be 2.5%. We think in a more dangerous world that would make sense.

He added: I will argue this, and I know the Prime Minister feels strongly about this, when we go to the 75th NATO summit, which is in Washington DC.

Rishi Sunak says military budget hike puts UK spending on 'war footing' video

Sunak unveiled plans to increase Britain's defense budget to 2.5% on Tuesday during a trip to Warsaw after months of pressure from him, including three former Tory defense secretaries, to increase defense spending to 3% of GDP.

The prime minister reversed course, apparently as the election looms, in an apparent attempt to curry favor with his MPs, having previously committed to NATO's minimum of 2%, which was below the figure Boris Johnson had proposed in June 2022.

In a speech on Tuesday alongside NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Sunak warned of threats to Great Britain. In a world that is the most dangerous it has been since the end of the Cold War, we cannot be complacent. As our adversaries line up, we must do more to protect our country, our interests and our values, Sunak said.

The prime minister said the plan was fully funded, moving from an aspiration to spend 2.5% by an unspecified date to a cost commitment to do so in 2030.

On Wednesday, Shapps said the spending announcement did not change plans for when the election would be held, which he told the BBC's Breakfast program would be in the second half of the year.

The minister emphasized that the announcement was made now because the economic conditions have begun to allow this increase, but he tried to explain how the increase in expenses would be financed.

We were just saying that protecting the sphere is the absolute number one priority; it comes before everything else and if we don't protect the nation then everything else becomes a little less of a problem, Shapps said after noting that it was reasonable to cut 72,000 civil service jobs.

When it was suggested on Nick Ferraris LBC program that this would not fully fund the increase in defense spending, Shapps said: No, but it will pay for a large part.

We were making other changes to the way we use, for example, our research and development budgets, you can imagine going through not just the chancellor but essentially two chancellors because the prime minister has said that every penny has to be properly accounted for.

Labor has pledged to launch a strategic defense review to assess threats to the UK in its first year in office, to understand the resources needed to meet the threats the UK faces and has committed to a target of 2.5% when finances allow. Shadow Attorney General Emily Thornberry did not say the UK was on a war footing, but instead pointed out that we are under much greater threat and those threats have changed, speaking on the Radio 4 program BBC Today.

It is clear the Tories will be looking to make defense a dividing line with Labor in the general election, as Shapps said he was very disappointed by their response.

Sources

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2/ https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2024/apr/24/all-nato-nations-should-match-uks-defence-spending-target-says-shapps

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