Defence experts warn prime minister over future defence spending

File picture shows Royal Navy Type 45 destroyer HMS Duncan entering Portsmouth

File picture shows Royal Navy Type 45 destroyer HMS Duncan entering Portsmouth

HMS Kent would enter service in May 2000

THIS WEEK IN 1999: Navy reveals newest warship in Portsmouth

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DAVID Cameron must ‘repair the damage’ to the nation’s security by guaranteeing a minimum level of defence spending, a group of experts has warned.

The Portsmouth-based UK National Defence Association said any prime minister who wants to be remembered as a statesman should take the opportunity to commit to maintaining the Nato target of spending a minimum of two per cent of national income on defence.

The prime minister has an opportunity to do what he and the other major party leaders felt unable to do in this election campaign, namely to repair the damage done to our defence and security in recent years and to our reputation as a serious contributor to world security.

Retired air chief marshal Sir Michael Graydon

Neither the Conservatives nor Labour pledged in their manifestos to meet the two per cent target beyond 2015/16 after the next defence spending review.

Tory former security minister Baroness Neville-Jones said during the election campaign she was ‘willing to bet’ a Conservative government would stick to the commitment, with the prime minister coming under renewed pressure following his election victory.

In a foreword to the latest UK National Defence Association (UKNDA) report, retired air chief marshal Sir Michael Graydon wrote: ‘The prime minister has now an opportunity to do what he and the other major party leaders felt unable to do in this election campaign, namely to repair the damage done to our defence and security in recent years and to our reputation as a serious contributor to world security.

‘It is an opportunity which any prime minister who aspires to be remembered as a statesman should take.’

The UKNDA, a group of former military chiefs and politicians, wants the government to commit to the Nato target of two per cent as a minimum for the rest of the parliament and protect the budget from public spending cuts.

Military chiefs should also be free to give their views publicly in line with the approach adopted in the United States so that MPs and the public ‘can be reassured of the adequacy of defence provision’, the report adds.

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