'You Can't Have It Both Ways': Sky Presenter Clashes With Grant Shapps Over Spending Pledges

Shapps was pressed over how much the government spends on the armed forces.
Grant Shapps was interviewed by Trevor Phillips on Sky News
Grant Shapps was interviewed by Trevor Phillips on Sky News
Sky News

Grant Shapps locked horns with Sky News’ Trevor Phillips this morning as they discussed the government’s spending commitments.

The defence secretary promised in a speech last Monday that the UK would increase defence spending to 2.5% of GDP “as soon as possible”.

He suggested this was key for NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) members in particular.

The cabinet minister also alleged that we are in a “pre-war world”, and predicted conflicts could erupt with China, Russia, North Korea and Iran in the next five years.

But, during his Sunday interview with Phillips, Shapps was called out for emphasising how the government is spending £50 billion on British defence.

The presenter quickly jumped in: “You’ve thrown out some rather impressive numbers there, but honestly, secretary of state, you can’t have it both ways.”

Phillips pointed out that the former head of the British Army Lord Richard Dannatt said the army exceeded 100,000 when he was in charge of it – while Shapps estimates it will be half that in the coming years.

“The truth is, you’re telling us the world is scary, but you’re not providing the resources to protect us,” the Sky News presenter summarised.

The defence secretary leapt in to say they were actually spending just over 2% of GDP now, not 2.5% – so even less than Phillips had mentioned.

Shapps also said his estimates for the Army is that it would go down to 73,000 plus reserves and no lower.

Phillips then noted that, in the past, Shapps said the UK should not spend anything less than 3% of GDP on defence.

The presenter asked: “So, what’s happened?”

Shapps said his call is about the world generally spending more over time.

He added: “If you gave me 3% tomorrow, I wouldn’t be able to spend that.”

Phillips hit back: “So we’ve got to rely on the Americans, now?”

“No,” Shapps replied, and pointed out we already spend more than two-thirds of Nato.

He also suggested that while he may argue for greater spending, “people want to see more of the money that they earn kept” right now, alluding to the cost of living crisis.


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