MoD: Ex-Defence ministers and top brass unite to call for increased UK Royal Navy, Army and RAF spending

Former defence ministers and top military brass have launched a campaign to call for the government to increase defence spending.
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The Defence Investment Campaign by the Council on Geostrategy is urging parliament to raise military financing to 3 per cent of GDP by 2030 - stating that "defending our way of life demands nothing less". Among those backing the pledge include minister of state for the armed forces James Heappey, who announced he was standing down last month due to personal reasons.

The defence pledge, which can be seen in full to the public, said the current geopolitical climate and its tensions means the UK has to act. A statement said: "Britain is now facing its gravest threats since the end of the Cold War. Russia has invaded Ukraine and threatened other democracies, interfering with elections and directing cyber attacks; it has even poisoned people in our cities. Putin will not relent; he sees Britain, perhaps more than any other country, as an absolute enemy. Meanwhile, extremists inspire terrorism in our islands and Houthi militants attack our shipping. Both Iran and North Korea are developing nuclear capabilities. And China is rearming at scale, threatening military conflict over Taiwan and the South China Sea which would engulf the Indo-Pacific, if not the entire world.

L to R: Former defence secretary Ben Wallace, former armed forces minister James Heappey and Lord West, former First Sea Lord. The Council on Geostrategy has launched a campaign to call on the UK government to increase defence spending amid ongoing conflict in the Red Sea, Russia-Ukraine and Gaza. Picture: Ian Forsyth/Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images/Sarah Standing.L to R: Former defence secretary Ben Wallace, former armed forces minister James Heappey and Lord West, former First Sea Lord. The Council on Geostrategy has launched a campaign to call on the UK government to increase defence spending amid ongoing conflict in the Red Sea, Russia-Ukraine and Gaza. Picture: Ian Forsyth/Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images/Sarah Standing.
L to R: Former defence secretary Ben Wallace, former armed forces minister James Heappey and Lord West, former First Sea Lord. The Council on Geostrategy has launched a campaign to call on the UK government to increase defence spending amid ongoing conflict in the Red Sea, Russia-Ukraine and Gaza. Picture: Ian Forsyth/Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images/Sarah Standing.
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"Our international trade routes, our energy supplies, the subsea cables on which our data and financial systems depend, are all now at greater risk than at any time this century. We are paying more for our food and energy; our future economic prosperity is at risk. Conflict and instability elsewhere threaten our borders and encourage dangerous people trafficking.

"Ten years ago NATO allies agreed to spend a minimum of two per cent of GDP on defence: Britain has met that target. Even combined with greater spending efficiency, this is no longer enough to protect all our interests at home, within NATO, and further overseas. Countries which wish us harm are growing stronger and more dangerous. To deter them and properly protect our interests, we need stronger armed forces, particularly a larger navy, better air defences, and enhanced cyber and space power."

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said during the budget in March that the UK would only increase defence spending when economic conditions allowed. (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said during the budget in March that the UK would only increase defence spending when economic conditions allowed. (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said during the budget in March that the UK would only increase defence spending when economic conditions allowed. (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Former defence secretary Ben Wallace resigned from his post in July 2023 after four years in the job, being replaced by former transport secretary Grant Shapps. Mr Wallace made little secret of his desire to increase defence spending, citing the need to invest in his resignation letter. Sir Gavin Williamson, who served in the same post between 2017 and 2019, also pledged his support. Current Conservative MP and defence committee member, Mark Francois, also pledged his support for the campaign alongside different members of the house of lords.

Lord West of Spithead, former First Sea Lord between 2002 and 2006 - who has claimed the Royal Navy is underpowered on several occasions - is among them. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt mentioned little about defence spending in the Spring Budget, stating that funding would rise to 2.5 per cent of GDP "as soon as economic conditions allow". Budget documents released brought confusion, with some claiming that military spending is decreasing.

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The Council on Geostrategy said "British interests could suffer defeat" if more support is not given. They added that due to the Royal Navy fleet's smaller size the loss of a warship would reduce the UK's ability to protect its allies and secure trade routes, which could cause other counties such as Russia to be more hostile. "We therefore urge all political parties to commit in their manifestos this year to invest in real terms at least 2.5 per cent of GDP on defence in each year of the next Parliament with a longer-term commitment to reach three per cent by 2030," they said. "We also call on political candidates, whether standing or prospective, to pledge their support."

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