Sunak puts UK on 'war footing' as he announces HUGE increase in defence spending

Sunak puts UK on 'war footing' as he announces HUGE increase in defence spending

WATCH NOW: Sunak issues update about UK defence spending

Jack Walters

By Jack Walters

Published: 23/04/2024

- 15:23

Updated: 23/04/2024

- 16:38

The Prime Minister visited the Polish capital Warsaw to announce plans to steadily increase defence spending

Rishi Sunak has ramped up efforts to bolster British defence spending as belligerent powers pose a growing threat to the West.

The Prime Minister, who confirmed plans to increase spending to 2.5 per cent by the end of the decade, delivered his speech alongside Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Warsaw.

Poland is a country of great significance in Europe's security plan, with the ex-satellite state seen as the vanguard of the continent's defence.

The UK's defence spending will increase immediately as the total pot is expected to reach £87billion by 2030.

Sunak puts UK on 'war footing' as he announces HUGE increase in defence spending Sunak puts UK on 'war footing' as he announces HUGE increase in defence spending GETTY

Sunak said: “In a world that is the most dangerous it has been since the end of the Cold War, we cannot be complacent. As our adversaries align, we must do more to defend our country, our interests, and our values.

“That is why today I am announcing the biggest strengthening of our national defence for a generation. We will increase defence spending to a new baseline of 2.5 per cent of GDP by 2030 – a plan that delivers an additional £75billion for defence by the end of the decade and secures our place as by far the largest defence power in Europe.

“Today is a turning point for European security and a landmark moment in the defence of the United Kingdom. It is a generational investment in British security and British prosperity, which makes us safer at home and stronger abroad.”

The Prime Minister's planned increase comes after the UK spent 2.23 per cent of GDP on defence in 2023.

The British Army is in the midst of a recruitment crisis

The British Army is in the midst of a recruitment crisis


Increasing the proportion to 2.5 per cent would place the UK as the fourth biggest Nato spender, behind Poland, the US and Greece.

However, Sunak was facing pressure from Defence Secretary Grant Shapps to increase spending amid the threat from Russia, Iran and China.

Ex-Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a similar commitment at a Nato summit in 2023.

Former Defence Secretaries Sir Michael Fallon, Sir Gavin Williamson and Ben Wallace went even further by calling on Sunak to increase defence spending to three per cent of GDP in the Tory Party's election manifesto.

Jens Stoltenberg

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg


Mark Francois, former Armed Forces Minister, immediately welcomed Sunak's plan.

He said: "As the first duty of Government is the Defence of the Realm, I warmly welcome today’s announcement on increased defence spending.

"Not only will this ensure that the MoD’s ten year Equipment Plan will now be fully affordable, it also includes an emphasis on placing our defence industry on a ‘war footing ‘ with reduced bureaucracy and increased stockpiles - to deter our potential adversaries. Si vis pacem, para bellum."

However, the Prime Minister's announcement today is intended to fire up the UK defence industrial base, modernise the Armed Forces and bolster Britain's backing of Ukraine's defence.

British Army

British Army


Sunak added: "We will put the UK's own defence industry on a war footing. One of the central lessons of the war in Ukraine is that we need deeper stockpiles of munitions and for industry to be able to replenish them more quickly."

It is not yet clear whether an incoming Labour Government would stick to Sunak's spending commitment.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer last week said he would aim to raise the UK's defence spending to 2.5 per cent of GDP "as soon as resources allow" if he won the upcoming election.

Defence spending has become an increasingly significant issue facing Whitehall after the National Audit Office warned the Ministry of Defence faces a £16.9billion black hole in its finances over the next 10 years.

Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey slammed the Tories over the situationShadow Defence Secretary John Healey slammed the Tories over the situationGETTY

Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey explained Labour wants a "fully funded" plan to reach Sunak's 2.5 per cent commitment.

Healey said: “As Keir Starmer recently set out, Labour wants to see a fully funded plan to reach 2.5 per cent, but the Tories have shown time and time again that they cannot be trusted on defence and we will examine the detail of their announcement closely.

“The British public will judge ministers by what they do not what they say. Since 2010, the Conservatives have wasted more than £15billion mismanaging defence procurement, shrunk the Army to its smallest size since Napoleon, missed their recruitment targets every year, and allowed morale to fall to record lows.

“Labour will conduct a strategic defence and security review in the first year in government to get to grips with the threats we face, the state of our Armed Forces, and the resources required.”

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