Daily Mail

Rishi ‘poised to pour billions into defence’

- By Tom Witherow

rISHI Sunak is expected to announce a multi-billion pound increase in defence spending following pressure from Ben Wallace when he visits the uS this weekend.

the Prime Minister will meet President Joe Biden and australian counterpar­t anthony albanese in Washington, DC to discuss the trilateral nuclear submarine pact.

and yesterday treasury sources told the Mail that Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is preparing to raise the defence budget – but declined to say by how much.

the cash injection, said to be ‘several billion pounds’ over two years, would come days before Budget day on March 15.

It comes after Defence Secretary Mr Wallace demanded between £8billion and £11billion more for the military amid concerns Britain’s forces have been ‘cut beyond the bone’. tory MPs have said the cash is needed to cover the cost of the war in ukraine and inflation.

But the treasury was initially reluctant, saying the demands were unaffordab­le and pointing to existing projects that are billions of pounds over budget.

the number of army troops has been reduced from 83,000 in 2015 towards a target of 72,500 personnel by 2025. army supplies have been depleted by the £2.3billion of military aid given to ukraine last year. Former armed Forces minister Mark Francois said: ‘given the brutal war in ukraine, any increase in our defence budget is very welcome but we also need to reform our “broken” procuremen­t system, so that we can spend any extra resources more wisely – more cash by itself is not the answer.’

a series of parliament­ary reports have laid bare the appalling state of some parts of the armed Forces. the MPs’ defence committee found the military’s armoured vehicle capability is ‘obsolescen­t and outgunned’, while the Public accounts Committee said ‘broken’ military procuremen­t practices resulted in billions of pounds of taxpayer money being wasted.

Former tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: ‘the treasury shouldn’t be playing games with this. there is a war going on and we are allies with the ukrainians.

‘the PM has already said we will do whatever it takes – but I’m afraid “whatever it takes” is money.’

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