Daily Mail

We can’t defend the realm on the cheap


THE Defence Secretary’s assessment last week of the global security situation could not have been bleaker.

Our world is in a ‘pre-war’ state, Grant Shapps said, and we should prepare for conflicts involving China, Russia, North Korea and Iran.

The last of those nations poses the most clear and present danger. In its bloody campaign for hegemony in the Middle East, Tehran is the root cause of most of the instabilit­y in the region.

Deploying terrorist proxies rather than getting their own hands dirty, Iran’s mullahs fund Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Crucially, they are also behind the Houthi militias in Yemen that are attacking civilian and military shipping in the Red Sea.

So after the RAF again joined US air strikes to destroy rebel bases, Rishi Sunak was right to say that the West ‘cannot stand by and allow these attacks to go unchalleng­ed’. But his words would carry more weight if the British military was properly funded to protect our interests in such a volatile world.

Instead, the Armed Forces are dwindling alarmingly. The size of the Army has fallen to its smallest since the Napoleonic wars, Royal Navy vessels are being mothballed because of a recruitmen­t crisis and the RAF has far fewer planes.

This inevitabil­ity emboldens and gives succour to our enemies. Mr Shapps says the Government is determined to increase defence spending from just over 2 per cent to 2.5 per cent of GDP, although he has conspicuou­sly failed to provide a date.

Talk is all very well, but if Britain wants to be a serious military player on the global stage, it must have the soldiers, ships and warplanes to back up the rhetoric.

This means increasing the defence budget, possibly by slimming down foreign aid and the ballooning welfare state.

Even in these straitened economic times, nothing is more important that the defence of the realm.

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