25 Jan 2018

New defence spending review sees military cuts put on hold

Prime Minister Theresa May has delayed cuts to the defence budget following a meeting of the National Security Council, which ordered a review of the defence budget.

Current spending plans, which had come under heavy criticism for potentially weakening the military’s capability to match Russian expansion and aggression, will now be deferred until the review is complete.

A spokesperson for Downing Street said a report finalising the National Security and Capability Review (NSCR) would be published in late spring.

He said: “As a result of the high-level findings of the review, the NSC has also commissioned a further new programme of work to modernise defence.

“It will use the Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015 and Joint Force 2025 as a starting point and build on the detailed work to date.

“The defence element of the NSCR has shown further work is needed to modernise defence to deliver better military capability and value for money in a sustainable and affordable way in accordance with National Security objectives.” 

The Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson, had raised his objections to the proposed cuts, which could have seen the Armed Forces reduce its numbers by up to 14,000 and cuts to the number of next generation F35 fighter jets.

Earlier this week, the Chief of General Staff Sir Nick Carter gave a speech at the Royal United Services Institute in London warning that Britain will need to increase defence spending to keep pace the threat of Russia.

He said: “I believe that our ability to pre-empt or respond to these threats will be eroded if we don’t match up to them now. They represent a clear and present danger. They are not thousands of miles away, they are now on Europe’s doorstep. And the character of warfare is making it much harder for us to recognise true intentions and thus distinguish between what is peace and what is war.

“Of course, it doesn’t have to be like this, but we cannot afford to sit back. We need to recognise that credible deterrence must be underpinned by genuine capability and genuine commitment that earns the respect of potential opponents.”

image © Crown Copyright

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