28 Jun 2018

Increase in defence spending likely to receive pro-Brexit backing

As Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson requests additional funds for defence, and the commons defence committee says the defence budget should rise, Dr Catarina Thomson, a strategy and security expert from the University of Exeter, has compiled a report which indicates an increase spending on defence is likely to be more popular with those who voted for Britain to leave the European Union.

Dr Thomson surveyed 2,000 members of the public as part of the research, as well as 64 members of the Defence Academy – soldiers who are training to be military leaders – and 533 members of the independent security think tank RUSI and the RUSI extended network. A total of 58 per cent of surveyed members of the Defence Academy said they would like the Government to better fund the UK’s defences.

Dr Thomson commented: “Liz Truss may have warned extra spending would “hamper the success of post-Brexit Britain”, but increased public spending on defence would be supported by certain sectors of the public, particularly people who voted to leave the EU. I have found a clear divide between members of the public who voted for Brexit and those who voted to stay: Brexit voters are twice as likely as remain voters to think that more should be spent on defence. Of those I surveyed 25 per cent of those who voted remain wanted more money spent on defence, compared to 54 per cent of people who voted to leave. Three quarters of Brexit supporters said Britain needed a strong military to be effective in international relations, compared to 51 per cent of those who voted remain.”

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