Rishi Sunak Announces Major Defence Spending Boost In Latest U-Turn

The prime minister says the UK will spend 2.5% of GDP on the armed forces by 2030, after previously refusing to do so.
Rishi Sunak with Nato general secretary Jens Stoltenberg and Polish prime minister Donald Tusk in Warsaw.
Rishi Sunak with Nato general secretary Jens Stoltenberg and Polish prime minister Donald Tusk in Warsaw.
SERGEI GAPON via Getty Images

The UK will spend 2.5% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on defence by the end of the decade, Rishi Sunak has announced.

The move is a major U-turn by the prime minister, who has previously refused to make the multi-billion pound spending pledge.

It comes barely a week after Keir Starmer said an incoming Labour government would spend 2.5% on defence “as soon as resources allow that to happen”.

Sunak has come under intense pressure from military chiefs and Tory MPs to increase military spending after last month’s Budget contained no new cash for the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

He announced the about-turn at a press conference in Warsaw with Nato general secretary Jens Stoltenberg.

He said: “I believe we must do more to protect our country, our interests and our values.

“So today I am announcing the biggest strengthening of our national defence for a generation.

“We will increase defence spending to a new baseline of 2.5% of GDP by 2030. That starts today and rises steadily in each and every year.”

Sunak said he was putting the UK defence industry on “a war footing”.

Last year, the government spent 2.2% of GDP on defence.

Sunak said increasing that to 2.5% would mean an extra £75 billion for the MoD over the next six years.

Shadow defence secretary John Healey said: “As Keir Starmer recently set out, Labour wants to see a fully funded plan to reach 2.5%, but the Tories have shown time and time again that they cannot be trusted on defence and we will examine the detail of their announcement closely.

“The British public will judge ministers by what they do not what they say. Since 2010, the Conservatives have wasted more than £15 billion mismanaging defence procurement, shrunk the Army to its smallest size since Napoleon, missed their recruitment targets every year, and allowed morale to fall to record lows.”


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