UK to increase military spending by highest amount in 30 years
The British government has announced plans to increase defence spending by the highest amount since the Cold War in an attempt to "transform" the British military. Over the next four years an additional £16.5bn will be available for spending on shipbuilding, space, cyber, research and other sectors. Announcing the decision, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said "I have decided that the era of cutting our defence budget must end, and it ends now."
The UK already has one of the highest defence budgets in the world, ranking 8th in SIPRIs world fact sheet for 2019, and the second highest in NATO.
The new money will be spent on:
- A new centre dedicated to artificial intelligence
- The creation of a national cyber force,
- A new "RAF space command launching British satellites and our first rocket from Scotland in 2022"
The Peace Pledge Union described the decision as "perverse" and highlighted that the amount was 53 times the cost of increasing funding for free school meals into the holiday periods for the poorest families in the UK who have been significantly impacted by lockdowns, a campaign which has seen significant numbers of people contacting their representatives in parliament.
Writing in the New Internationalist, Andrew Smith from Campaign Against Arms Trade argued that the new spending - which comes as the UK prepares to leave the European Union - "tells us a lot about how ‘Global Britain’ will act on the world stage", and suggested that the UK would be taking a more inward-looking approach on international issues. He also highlighted CAAT's research that shows that investment in offshore wind and marine energy could create more jobs than the arms industry in the UK.