Ben Wallace vows to 'fight every bit of the way' for defence cash

Ben Wallace vows to ‘fight every bit of the way’ for defence cash in crunch meeting with Chancellor tomorrow – as Defence Secretary reminds Jeremy Hunt of his OWN promise to boost spending to 3% of GDP by 2028

  • Ben Wallace vows to ‘fight every bit of the way’ for a boost to defence spending
  • Defence Secretary reveals he will hold crunch talks with Chancellor tomorrow
  • Jeremy Hunt and new PM Rishi Sunak are under pressure to meet 3% of GDP aim 

Ben Wallace today vowed to ‘fight every bit of the way’ for a boost to defence spending in a crunch meeting with the Chancellor tomorrow.

The Defence Secretary told MPs he would be ‘fighting for as much money as I can get’ in his talks with Jeremy Hunt.

Mr Wallace reiterated his belief that Britain should be spending more on defence.

He also pointedly referred to Mr Hunt’s own pledge earlier this year – when the Chancellor briefly ran for the Tory leadership – to increase spending on it to 3per cent of GDP by 2028.

But Mr Wallace acknowledged that departments across Whitehall would have to contend with a spending squeeze due to soaring inflation, as well as the £50billion blackhole in public finances.

The level of defence spending set by Mr Hunt and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak at their Autumn Statement later this month will be keenly watched by MPs.

Downing Street has failed to commit to a promise from Mr Sunak’s predecessor Liz Truss to boost spending on the sector to 3 per cent of GDP by 2030.

Mr Wallace, who has been kept on in his role by Mr Sunak, will be on resignation watch if the new PM moves further away from that target.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told MPs he would be ‘fighting for as much money as I can get’ in his talks with Chancellor Jeremy Hunt tomorrow

In his Tory leadership bid this year, Mr Hunt pledged to raise defence spending to 3% of GDP by 2028

Appearing before the Commons defence committee this afternoon, Mr Wallace described spending at a level of three per cent of GDP as ‘a perfectly reasonable aspiration in the dangerous world that is emerging’.

‘I’ve always said as threat changes, so should our commitment and our planning and our funding,’ he said.

Mr Wallace added he was ‘passionate’ about defence moving up the list of spending priorities towards Cold War-levels of spending.

Asked later if he could at least guarantee another of Ms Truss’s pledges – to boost defence spending to 2.5 per cent of GDP by 2026 – the the minister told MPs: ‘I have my meeting with the Chancellor tomorrow and the next few weeks until the budget. I will be fighting for as much money as I can get.

‘I recognise the whole of Government is facing the challenges of inflation, of the black hole… and we need to get through the next two years et cetera for the growth.

‘I will fight every bit of the way to see what I can get.’

Mr Wallace added: ‘My aspiration – more than aspiration – as I have said, I have believed that we need to spend more on defence.

‘I have believed the direction of travel of the world means we need to do it, we shouldn’t take the US for granted, there’s no such thing as a free lunch, we need to invest in our British industry, we need to secure a supply chain.

‘There’s not much I disagree with in this committee about all of that.

‘The 3 per cent [target], if you remember, came from the Chancellor – I think his was 3 per cent by 2028 in the leadership campaign.

‘I think we are keen to make sure he believes clearly it should be raised up the profile, but let’s see where we are in the next few weeks.’

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