Mr Speaker, thank you and with permission, I will update the House on the Government’s Integrated Review of foreign, defence, security and development policy.
Our Review will conclude early next year, setting out the UK’s international agenda,
but I want to inform the House of its first outcome.
For decades, British governments have trimmed and cheese-pared our defence budget
and if we go on like this,
we risk waking up to discover that our armed forces – the pride of Britain –
have fallen below the minimum threshold of viability,
and once lost, they could never be regained.
That outcome would not only be craven, it would jeopardise the security of the British people,
amounting to a dereliction of duty for any Prime Minister.
So I refused to vindicate any pessimistic forecasters there have been by taking up the scalpel yet again.
Based on our assessment of the international situation and our foreign policy goals,
I have decided that the era of cutting our defence budget must end – and it ends now.
I am increasing defence spending by £24.1 billion over the next four years,
That’s £16.5 billion more than our manifesto commitment –
raising it as a share of GDP to at least 2.2 percent,
exceeding our NATO pledge,
and investing £190 billion over the next four years,
more than any other European country
and more than any other NATO ally, except the United States.
The Ministry of Defence has received a multi-year settlement because equipping our armed forces requires long term investment,
and our national security in 20 years’ time will depend on decisions we take today.
I have done this in the teeth of the pandemic, amid every other demand on our resources,
because the defence of the realm,
and the safety of the British people,
must come first.
I pay tribute to my Right Honourable Friends the Chancellor and Defence Secretary, who believe in this as fervently as I do.
Reviving our armed forces is one pillar of the Government’s ambition to safeguard Britain’s interests and values
by strengthening our global influence,