w/e 28th October 2022
No sooner had the military community rejoiced at the pledge by former PM Liz Truss to raise the UK’s defence budget to 3% of GDP by 2030 than all hopes were dashed by Kwasi Kwarteng’s (remember him?) disastrous mini-budget and rampant inflation and rise in cost of living costs.
The extra £157 billion that the defence community thought it was going to get over the next eight years now looks extremely unlikely. At best it might get an uplift to 2.5% by 2030, heavily backloaded towards the end of that time period. Other spending priorities look like they will prevail.
This at a time when we have a conventional war in Europe and great instability in other parts of the globe. Britain’s armed forces have been hollowed out by cuts by successive governments and there isn’t much more fat on the bone, if any. The regular British army is barely above 70,000 strong, the RAF/RN has no guarantee of getting the promised 138 F-35B fighter jets, and the RN is woefully short of ships.
Any pretence to be a global player is fast disappearing, that’s if it hasn’t gone already. The continuing presence of Ben Wallace as Defence Secretary in Rishi Sunak’s first cabinet is an interesting aspect. Wallace clearly nailed his colours to the mast over the 3% GDP pledge. If that does not come to pass, and if he’s a man of integrity and of his word, then surely his position is untenable and he will resign?
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Lt Col Stuart Crawford’s latest book Tank Commander (Hardback) is available for pre-order now