The Sunday Telegraph

UK must boost military spend as war fears grow

- By Luke Barr and Matt Oliver

DEFENCE chiefs are urging Britain to ramp up military spending as the threat of war grows across the world.

Bosses at Airbus and Babcock have called for greater UK investment in defence, amid Russia’s war in Ukraine and the prospect of a second Donald Trump presidency.

Ben Bridge, global head of space and defence at Airbus, said military spending must be prioritise­d at a time when “war is very much on our doorstep”. He said there was “a need for the UK and other nations to take those threats seriously”.

David Lockwood. chief executive of Babcock, separately called for greater defence spending, warning that Britain needed sovereign capabiliti­es in order to defend itself from threats to its values. He said: “I do think this is the first time in my lifetime when we’re not taking Western freedoms for granted. Because even in the Cold War, frankly, we were either going to be free or blown to smithereen­s – we weren’t under threat in the way we are now.”

It follows demands from Grant Shapps, the Defence Secretary, to raise defence spending to 2.5pc of GDP, up from 2.2pc now.

Boris Johnson, the former prime minister, has also called for a boost to Britain’s defence budget, as he said last week that “now is the moment for an even more robust posture”. Mr Bridge echoed these demands: “It is a difficult political balancing game for each country to decide how much of their GDP is put towards defence.

“But I support what the Secretary of State has said about how now is the time to give priority to that.”

Increasing defence spending to the levels Mr Shapps has called for would cost an estimated £9bn next year.

A government spokesman said: “We have been clear that we need to spend more on defence in a more dangerous and contested world.

“That is why the Government has overseen the largest sustained defence spending increase since the end of the Cold War – with a £24bn uplift in cash terms since 2020, and an additional £11bn at last year’s spring Budget. We have committed to increase that to 2.5pc of GDP on defence when the economic situation allows.”

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