Ministers are urging the government to increase defense spending to 2.5% of GDP

  • By Peter Saul, political correspondent and James Gregory
  • BBC News

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Two ministers are calling on the government to achieve its 2.5% target more quickly

Two ministers have publicly urged the government to increase defense spending to above 2.5% of national income.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan and Tom Tugendhat said the UK needed to “lead the way” and invest “at a much greater pace”.

Their article, published on LinkedIn, follows criticism of this week's budget for failing to boost defense spending.

Presenting the budget, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said spending was above 2%, the NATO target, and would rise to 2.5% “as soon as economic conditions allow.”

But Mr Trevelyan, the foreign ministry minister, and Mr Tugendhat, the security minister, said the global threat posed by countries such as Russia and China meant there was no time to delay.

“The sad truth is that the world is no longer benign,” they said in the article published on Saturday.

“Protecting ourselves requires investment. Effective investment means that our industrial complex must grow and consolidate at a much greater pace than it does at present.

“We cannot operate the complex platforms and weapons that ensure military superiority overnight. We must start this growth now, and invest at a rapid pace to support our allies and stay ahead of our adversaries,” he added.

The two ministers also praised former Defense Secretary Ben Wallace and former Prime Minister Boris Johnson for their success in boosting defense spending.

Ministers often press the Chancellor before the Budget, sometimes publicly, but it is unusual for them to speak publicly afterward.

It is understood that both ministers remain fully supportive of Hunt and the government's policy of reaching 2.5% of GDP “as soon as possible”, but wanted to stress the importance of achieving the target quickly.

The Public Accounts Committee also warned that the real shortfall could be closer to £29bn, because some parts of the armed forces included only the capabilities they could afford, not all of those requested by the government.

Defense Secretary Grant Shapps wrote to Hunt in January calling for the 2.5% budget to be committed.

However, a source close to him said he played no role in the LinkedIn article.

This article has not been approved by Downing Street either, but a No10 source said this was normal for social media posts.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told MPs in January that the government would set a course towards 2.5%, adding that in the previous spending review there had been a cash increase of £24bn – “the largest sustained increase since the end of the Cold War”. .

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