Daily Mail

PM in £5bn boost to military – as he vows ‘UK stands its ground’

- From Jason Groves Political Editor in San Diego

BritiSH troops will get ‘everything they need’ to protect the country, rishi Sunak said last night – despite delivering just half the extra cash requested by military chiefs.

Unveiling a £5billion cash injection for the Ministry of Defence, the Prime Minister said the UK must prepare to ‘stand our ground’ in an increasing­ly hostile world.

Mr Sunak said the military was now enjoying the largest sustained increase in funding since the cold War. He set a target of raising Britain’s military spending to 2.5 per cent of national income, with sources saying he hoped to meet it by the end of the decade.

But the target is well short of the 3 per cent promised by both liz truss and Jeremy Hunt during last summer’s tory leadership campaign.

Ministers will today publish a new integrated review of Britain’s foreign and defence policy to counter the growing threat posed by russia, china and other hostile states.

Speaking to reporters en route to a US-hosted defence summit in San Diego, Mr Sunak said the scale of the extra cash, at a time of tight budgets, was a ‘very strong and positive statement about our ambitions’.

He added: ‘As the world becomes more volatile and competitio­n between states becomes more intense, the UK must be ready to stand our ground. We have seen all too clearly in the last year how global crises impact us at home, with russia’s appalling invasion of Ukraine driving up energy and food sources. We will fortify our national defences, from economic security to technology supply chains and intelligen­ce expertise, to ensure we are never again vulnerable to the actions of a hostile power.’

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said in October that meeting a 3 per cent spending level by the end of the decade was ‘necessary’. At the time, he was reported to be ready to resign over the issue.

But the move would have cost a staggering £157billion and was ruled too expensive. He has also warned that the military has been ‘hollowed out’ by years of spending cuts. last night, the Ministry of Defence insisted Mr Wallace was ‘delighted with the settlement, especially in these economical­ly challengin­g times’.

the cash will be delivered over two years. Almost £2billion will be spent on replenishi­ng missiles and ammunition depleted by gifts to Ukraine.

However, there appears to be little, if any, cash for shoring up troop numbers. the defence review identifies russia’s invasion of Ukraine as the ‘first and foremost’ risk to national security. it also sets out measures to combat the ‘epoch-defining challenge presented by the chinese communist Party’s increasing­ly concerning military, financial and diplomatic activity’.

Alongside this, ministers will publish a ‘critical minerals strategy’ to shore up supply chains for rare elements needed in high-tech applicatio­ns. Mr Sunak said the the funding would ‘make sure that our Armed Forces have everything they need in the short term’, as well as boosting longterm capabiliti­es.

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