The UK’s new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, pledged before her elevation to power that the UK defence budget would rise from its present just over 2.1% of GDP to 3.0% by 2030. Although nobody can accurately predict what Britain’s GDP will actually be by that date, and of course much depends on the state of the economy and how inflation will affect that number, some have predicted that it might amount to an additional £157 billion of spending in the eight years between now and then. Looking at it another way, the annual defence budget is likely to double from its current £48 billion to £100 billion by 2030.
Those hoping that this splurge of cash will result in the restoration of some long-lamented army regiments disbanded overt he past few decades shouldn’t get their hopes up too much though. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has just indicated that rather than reviving lost battalions of the Rifles Regiment, for example, the additional funds are much more likely to be expended on much needed enhancements to the equipment procurement programmes of all three services, although the hope remains that the British army, which has been sucking on the hind tit for the past few years, will get the lion’s share. Goodness knows it needs it, with diminished numbers and much obsolete and obsolescent equipment in its inventory.
All of this is a direct result of the Ukraine war, and to a lesser extent heightened tensions in other parts of the globe like those between China and Taiwan. What is crystal clear, though, is that in the face of the renewed security threat from Russia, European nations have to commit more to providing for their own defence and less on the USA to come to their rescue. Britain’s increased defence budget commitment is in line with similar actions amongst its European allies, and not before time either. Doing nothing is no longer an option, if indeed it ever properly was.