In November, the Prime Minister announced the biggest increase in defence spending for decades. This news represents a turning point. The first priority of every government must be to keep its people safe. In an increasingly volatile world, ensuring a well-funded and modern military is critical to this mission.
In total the new investment comes to £24.1 billion over the next four years. The 2019 Conservative manifesto pledged to increase defence spending by 0.5% above inflation for every year of this parliament. On top of this, this recent announcement puts an additional £16.5 billion into defence.
The new funding will be felt all across the UK with new jobs and new industrial demand strengthening the bonds between the nations of the United Kingdom. Such an ambitious scale of commitment would simply not be possible without the Union.
One key focus of the new package is ensuring that our country is at the forefront of technological warfare. A new National Cyber Force will be created. This new agency will be created in partnership between the Ministry of Defence and GCHQ to transform the UK’s cyber capabilities. The UK must take advantage of the opportunities that cyber operations offer and to keep us safe from hostile acts.
At least £1.5 billion of the extra funding will be spent on military research and development, including a commitment to invest further in the Future Combat Air System (crewed and un-crewed fast jets), estimated by PWC to generate 18,500 new jobs and 2,500 apprenticeships. Thanks to this increased funding, other technologies, including autonomous vehicles, human-machine teaming and cutting-edge battlefield awareness systems, will also be developed for military use.
Hot on the trails of the recent Spending Review the next few years will see a resurgence of British shipbuilding and thousands of jobs in UK shipyards. This funding comes alongside a commitment to finance the UK’s order of 8 Type 26 and 5 Type 31 frigates, which are currently being constructed on the Clyde.
Of course, whenever increased spending is announced by the Government so too often are new jobs created. MOD procurement plays a huge role in the UK economy and greatest value right through the supply chain. 196,000 jobs are already generated by defence spending. The announced new package of funding will deliver an estimated 10,000 new jobs, many high skilled, annually across the UK.
The Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Carter, has said that this news “gives meaning to the vision of a Global Britain”. I could not agree more. A strong and confident UK needs the military clout to back up our diplomatic, humanitarian and cultural impact on the world. A strident UK is a force that will make the world a better, safer and more humane place to live. The Prime Minister aims to take control of our country’s place in the world and to shape it. This is the first bold, confident step towards that goal.
written by Will Hall in a personal capacity.