This morning the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail report that President Obama has warned Prime Minister David Cameron not to cut the UK defence budget. According to the papers, Mr Obama made the direct appeal during face-to-face private meetings when the Prime Minister visited Washington last month.
In response to this story a Downing Street spokesperson said:
With the second largest defence budget in NATO and the largest in Europe, the government is committed to spending 2% of gross domestic product (GDP) on defence. Decisions on spending after the financial year 2015/16 will be determined in the next spending review.
Over the next decade we are committed to spending £163 billion on equipment and equipment support to keep Britain safe. That includes new strike fighters; more surveillance aircraft; hunter killer submarines; two aircraft carriers; and the most advanced armoured vehicles.
During the Prime Minister's recent visit to Washington, the President made the point that the US greatly appreciates that the UK currently meets the 2% target.
Also on defence spending an Institute for Strategic Studies report has been published this morning titled ‘The Military Balance 2015’. The report contains region-by-region analysis of the major military and economic developments affecting defence and security policies, and the trade in weapons and other military equipment. The report contains a ranking of the world’s top-15 defence spending nations and this year’s report shows that we have maintained our position of fifth in the ranking table with Saudi Arabia and Russia switching places to third and fourth respectively. The figure attached to the UK has risen from $57 billion (US) in 2013 to $61.8 billion (US) in 2014.
In response to the report the Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:
Under this government the UK has one of the largest defence budgets in the world to help keep Britain safe. We are committed to spending 2% of GDP on defence this year and next with decisions on future spending to be determined in the spending review.
We are investing over £160 billion on equipment over the next 10 years including new strike fighters; more surveillance aircraft; hunter killer submarines; 2 new aircraft carriers; and the most advanced armoured vehicles.
The UK remains a global military power with more than 90,000 servicemen and women deployed last year on over 300 commitments in 50 countries. We are making the second biggest contribution to the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and have 750 military personnel in Sierra Leone to help fight Ebola.
The UK government is spending 2% GDP on defence and has consistently met and indeed exceeded this NATO Guideline and is one of only 4 countries to do so alongside the US, Estonia and Greece. The UK also exceeds the NATO guideline to spend 20% of the defence budget on new equipment. Like all other government departments, the budget for defence beyond 2015-16 will be set in the next Spending Round, in the meantime the Treasury has agreed a commitment to 1% real terms annual growth in the Defence Equipment Plan, from the 2015-16 baseline, providing investment in the vital equipment needed to deliver the MOD’s Future Force 2020.
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