Russia And China 'Breathing A Sigh Of Relief' After Sunak Rejects Defence Spending Bid, says Tory MP

Defence secretary Ben Wallace is getting less than half what he asked for.
Tobias Ellwood
Tobias Ellwood
Leon Neal via Getty Images

A senior Tory MP has said Russia and China will be “breathing a sigh of relief” after Rishi Sunak turned down a bid for £11 billion in extra spending from defence secretary Ben Wallace.

The Ministry of Defence will only receive £5 billion over the next two years following a review of the government’s security and foreign policy.

Much of that will be swallowed up by replenishing ammunition stockpiles handed to Ukraine since it was invaded by Russia and work on a project to develop nuclear-powered submarines for Australia.

On Sky News, former defence minister Tobias Ellwood said he was disappointed by the prime minister’s decision.

“The next couple of years are going to get very dangerous indeed - this year particularly, 2023, will be critical for Ukraine,” he said.

“Britain has done brilliantly in stepping forward, pushing the envelope, because we’d become rather risk averse - too timid in dealing with aggressive nations such as Russia and China.

“But we can only do that with the hard power, and I think Russia and China will be breathing a sigh of relief that we’ve not invested further in our armed forces at this time.

“We are at the foothills of another cold war. Globalisation in its current form is actually dying and it’s usually countries like Britain that actually step forward, and other nations follow. We can only do that if we invest further in our defence.”

Foreign secretary will unveil the government’s integrated review refresh in the House of Commons this afternoon.

Meanwhile, Sunak is in San Diego, where he will announce his intention to increase defence spending to 2.5% of GDP, up from 2% at the moment.

He told reporters on the flight to San Diego that spending would go from 2% to 2.25% between 2020 and 2025.

“At that point, we will set out the trajectory for the next phase,” he said.

The Ministry of Defence insisted Ben Wallace was “delighted” with the settlement in these “economically challenging times”.


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