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MemberSeptember 18, 2021 at 9:46 am
A “once-in-a-generation modernisation” of the armed forces is required to extend British influence and protect the public, Boris Johnson has said.
The prime minister told MPs a new four-year funding deal would protect “hundreds of thousands” of jobs and create 40,000 new roles.
“I have decided that the era of cutting our defence budget must end, and it ends now,” he said.
Labour welcomed more defence spending but asked how it would be funded.
Outlining the new package in the Commons, the PM – speaking over video link as he is self-isolating – said the benefits “will go far beyond our armed forces”.
Mr Johnson described the increase in defence spending as being worth £16.5bn in new money over four years.
However economist Ben Zaranko, from the Institute of Fiscal Studies, said that while this represented a big rise in spending, the figure of £16.5bn was a “misleading way to present this announcement”.
He continued: “It would be more accurate to say that by 2024-25, defence spending will be £7bn higher than it would have been under previous plans.”
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Mr Johnson said: “Our plans will safeguard hundreds of thousands of jobs in the defence industry, protecting livelihoods across the UK and keeping the British people safe.”
The PM pledged to end defence budget cuts, protect shipping lanes that supply the country, press on with renewing the UK’s nuclear deterrent and restore Britain as “the foremost naval power in Europe” with a “renaissance of British shipbuilding across the UK”.
He also said the funding would allow investment in new technology such as:
A new centre dedicated to artificial intelligence
The creation of a national cyber force, which he said was already operating against terrorists, organised crime groups and hostile states
A new “RAF space command launching British satellites and our first rocket from Scotland in 2022”
“From aerospace to autonomous vehicles, these technologies have a vast array of civilian applications opening up new vistas of economic progress, creating 10,000 jobs every year – 40,000 in total – levelling-up across our country and reinforcing our union,” Mr Johnson added.