Defence Secretary Ben Wallace puts fresh pressure on Rishi Sunak to loosen Treasury purse strings and boost Britain’s military spending as he warns of ‘dangerous world’
- Ben Wallace accuses Russia of mirroring ‘fascism and tyranny’ of Nazi Germany
- He hints UK defence spending should increase due to the ‘dangerous world’
- Cabinet minister describes the Army’s land fleet as ‘woefully behind its peers’
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has put fresh pressure on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to loosen the Treasury’s purse strings and boost Britain’s military spending.
The Cabinet minister used a speech today to accuse Russia’s Vladimir Putin of mirroring the ‘fascism and tyranny’ of Nazi Germany following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
He hinted that UK defence spending should increase in future years due to the ‘dangerous world’ that now exists.
And Mr Wallace later described the Army’s land fleet as ‘woefully behind its peers’ and said it ‘needs definitely to modernise’.
Speaking at the National Army Museum in Chelsea, south-west London, the Defence Secretary noted how senior Conservative MPs – such as Tobias Ellwood, the chair of the House of Commons’ defence committe – were calling for more military spending.
Mr Wallace claimed his department was in a ‘sound position’ this year and next in terms of funding, but left open the question as to whether more cash would be needed from 2024-2025 onwards.
‘I have always said as a threat changes, so should our funding,’ he said.
‘No different from other parts of Government, if pressure on the NHS goes up, that gets met with money. If threat changes, then that should.
‘If it goes down, be prepared what you wish for, because if the threat goes down, maybe defence spending. So, I think it’s up to me to present a case about the threat and what we need to do to counter it.
‘Then it’s a discussion about Government, about its appetite. For decades, defence spending has been at risk for a number of things, but one common risk has been Government’s appetite has never matched its budget. It has done more than it can afford.’
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace hinted that UK defence spending should increase in future years due to the ‘dangerous world’ that now exists
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is facing demands from senior Conservatives to increase Britain’s military spending
Mr Wallace left open the question as to whether more cash would be needed for the Armed Forces from 2024-2025 onwards
Mr Wallace added: ‘Now, we should have that debate. I know Tobias (Ellwood) and others would say the debate is it does warrant more because it is a more insecure world. It is a dangerous world, actually, at the moment, and I do agree with that.
‘But, at the moment, my spending for this year and last year, and next year, I’m in a sound position. The long-term is as much about what NATO plans I mean, I think we have to ask NATO: what is your long-term plan?’
Mr Wallace was also asked at a defence conference today whether he thought more military spending was justified as the cost-of-living crisis hits households.
He said an extra £24 billion announced for the Ministry of Defence in 2020 had been ‘very important’ to ‘make sure that we modernise the Army’.
‘I mean, the Army’s land fleet is woefully behind its peers,’ he added.
‘I mean, you can lay the blame at all sorts of reasons, but fundamentally it needs definitely to modernise.’
Mr Wallace stressed a ‘concerted campaign to tell people the importance of defence’ would be needed to justify a larger budget, telling the conference: ‘I don’t think it is impossible to persuade the public of the importance of stability.’
It was recently revealed that Boris Johnson had personally asked Mr Wallace to withdraw a letter calling for increased spending on the Armed Forces in the first weeks of Russia’s invasion.
Mr Wallace wrote to Mr Sunak on 11th March warning Britain risked missing a NATO commitment to spend two per cent of national income on security by 2025 because the cost of arming Ukraine and rising inflation meant the UK was facing a real-terms cut in security spending.
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