Boris Johnson under pressure to increase UK defence spending

Boris Johnson under pressure to increase UK  defence spending

Boris Johnson under pressure to up defence spending in the wake of Ukraine war as ex-minister Lord Frost leads Tories demanding 25% increase and Labour calls for a review amid surge in Western military solidarity

  • Lord Frost attacked ‘many years of Western unseriousness’ on defence 
  • Ex-minister said inaction allowed Vladimir Putin to think he could ‘try it on’
  • Nato allies look at spending and nations close to Russia considering joining
  • Follow all the latest updates on the Ukraine war by following MailOnline’s live blog here 

Boris Johnson is facing political pressure on all sides to reexamine the UK’s military spending levels as one of his former ministers led Tory demands for an increase in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Lord Frost attacked ‘many years of Western unseriousness about foreign and defence policy’ as Labour’s Keir Starmer also demanded a review of policy.

Frost, until last year the UK’s Brexit Secretary, said inaction allowed Vladimir Putin to think he could ‘try it on’. The former minister joined with other ex-Cabinet members including Michael Fallon to back a 25 per cent increase in defense spending.

Their intervention comes as Nato allies look at their own spending and European nations close to Russia geographically consider joining. 

Germany is to plough 100 billion euros into a new defence procurement fund and raise overall spending above 2 per cent of GDP for the first time in decades. 

At the same time Finland and Sweden are said to have begun looking at the possibility of joining Nato. 

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph today, Lord Frost said: ‘we are going to have to spend more on defence and that will mean tough choices. We need to reform and liberalise so that investment keeps coming.’

Lord Frost attacked ‘many years of Western unseriousness about foreign and defence policy’ as Labour’s Keir Starmer also demanded a review of policy.

Boris Johnson is facing political pressure on all sides to reexamine the UK’s military spending levels

Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme, Sir Keir said: ‘I think there does need to be a step back and review of defence policy because this has, I think, blown away some of the assumptions the Government was working on.’

Sir Michael Fallon, who was defence secretary under David Cameron and Theresa May, added: ‘In 1999, long before 9/11, before Russian aggression, before Kim Jong-il had nuclear missiles, we were spending 2.7 per cent.’

‘[My] only criticism of last year’s integrated review [of security and defence ] was that its ambition wasn’t matched by signficant further uplift. 

‘I absolutely welcome both the review and the previous very welcome increase in 2020. But its ambition wasn’t matched by a further increase building beyond 2.5 per cent by the end of the Parliament. That’s the kind of ambition we need.’

Sir Keir said there needs to be a review of defence policy and spending, with Labour having also previously attacked wasted money in military procurement. 

Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme, Sir Keir said: ‘I think there does need to be a step back and review of defence policy because this has, I think, blown away some of the assumptions the Government was working on.’

Sir Keir said the Labour Party has been critical of the Government for cutting back the army by another 10,000 soldiers, noting ‘as we have said, we wouldn’t have done that’.

He went on: ‘I think on the Government benches, there’s a growing sense that there’s got to be a review by the Government of its defence policy and strategy, and its funding, and I think that’s true.’

When asked how much more on defence he would spend, Sir Keir said: ‘Well, we’ve said we wouldn’t be making the cuts that the Government is currently making. But I think in the middle of a conflict, we have to focus on the job in hand, which is supporting Ukraine and ensuring that Putin is defeated.

‘In the aftermath, of course, there’s going to have to be a review across Parliament about spending, about priorities about strategy in relation to defence.’

Last month MailOnline revealed Boris Johnson’s Global Britain foreign policy has forced military chiefs to scrap equipment programmes worth £2billion – enough to build two new Royal Navy warships – MailOnline can reveal.

Germany is to plough 100 billion euros into a new defence procurement fund and raise overall spending above 2 per cent of GDP for the first time in decades (Bundeswehr Leopard 2 tank pictured)

The Prime Minister signalled a post-Brexit change in policy in March last year with a huge shift in emphasis from conventional forces to cutting edge warfare, with investment in space and laser weapons.

He also raised the limit on the number of nuclear warheads from 180 to 260 in the face of increasingly belligerent activity by Chin and Russia in the integrated review of security, defence, and foreign policy.

But the Ministry of Defence’s annual review for 2021 shows that ‘earlier retirement of assets cost more than £1.4 billion. Additionally, cancelling procurement programmes for equipment no longer required cost £545million.

The combined loss of almost £2billion would be enough to pay for two Daring Class Type 45 destroyers at £1billion a time.

The MoD said the figures were ‘accounting adjustments’ and highlighted increased military spending announced in the review.

The 100-page Integrated Review set out the Government’s view of Britain’s place in the world after Brexit.

At the same time Finland and Sweden (Saab Gripen fighters pictured) are said to have begun looking at the possibility of joining Nato

It declared: ‘We will move from defending the status quo within the post-Cold War international system to dynamically shaping the post-Covid order.’

There will be a £24billion rise in spending on defence as the UK moves into the ‘new frontiers’ of space and cyber-warfare.

The review also paved the way for cuts to conventional forces, with the RAF set to lose 24 Typhoon jets and its 14 Super Hercules transport planes.

The Royal Navy is said to be facing the loss of two submarine-hunting frigates, HMS Montrose and HMS Monmouth, as well as its 13 minehunters, which are due to be replaced by drones.

And British Army commanders are expected to have to say goodbye to 10,000 personnel, four infantry battalions, 77 tanks and 760 Warrior fighting vehicles.

Even the Liberal Democrats have called for increased military spending. Yesterday its leader Ed Davy used a visit to Portsmouth to say: ‘Now is not the time to be undermining our Royal Navy by slashing defence spending.

‘That should include urgent investment in boosting our Royal Navy and fixing our destroyers that have been plagued with problems for many years.

‘It is unforgivable that at a time we face a renewed threat from Putin’s Russia, six of the UK’s destroyers have been stuck in port and are not set to be fixed for years to come.’

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