United Kingdom unveils defence spending splurge for post-Brexit and Biden era

Cheryl Sanders
November 21, 2020

The prime minister, speaking as he set out a new multi-year funding package to the House of Commons, warned the "international situation is now more perilous and intensely competitive than at any time since the Cold War".

Johnson announced an extra £16.5 billion ($22 billion) of budget designated to military spending over the next four years.

Almost £500 million to be spent in the next four years for the development and mass-scale production of electric vehicle batteries, as part of our commitment to provide up to £1 billion, boosting global investment into our strong manufacturing bases including in the Midlands and North East. The Government has already pledged to increase defence spending by 0.5 per cent above inflation for every year of this parliament.

In this grab taken from video, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gives a statement on the defence review via video link from 10 Downing Street, in London, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, "I have taken this decision in the teeth of the pandemic because the defence of the realm must come first".

They are also being seen as an opportunity to reset his faltering government and align with the priorities of US President-elect Joe Biden, ahead of the United Kingdom hosting global climate talks next December.

He also said Britain will "establish a new world-leading industry in carbon capture and storage", backed by £1bn of state investment, while a £1bn energy innovation fund "will help commercialise new low-carbon technologies" and City of London will be transformed into "the global centre for green finance" through a sovereign bond, carbon offset markets and disclosure requirements.

He said the government would seek to "develop the next generation of warships, including multi-role research vessels and Type 32 frigates".

Scotland will host the rocket launches and much of a new programme of naval shipbuilding, Johnson said, as he pushes back against a resurgent campaign for independence by the Scottish National Party.

Britain's military upgrade comes at a pivotal moment for the country.

In an address given remotely because he came into contact with someone who subsequently tested positive for the coronavirus, the prime minister said the armed forces will receive $21 billion over and above the government's earlier plan.

More details will likely emerge next week when Treasury chief Rishi Sunak unveils details of the country's spending plans for the coming year.

It has been reported the government could temporarily cut the UK's foreign aid spending target from 0.7% to 0.5% of gross national income, following the huge outlay to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

"We can all be proud of our record on overseas aid and that will continue, but it's also by investing in armed services that you can do some of the greatest things for the poorest and neediest people around the world", he said.

"This statement is about our defence and security, and there is no read across to any other issue", he added.

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