Published: Sat, November 21, 2020

British govt announces largest military investment since Cold War

British govt announces largest military investment since Cold War

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced late on Thursday the country's largest military investment in 30 years - an extra 16.5 billion pounds (about 21.9 billion U.S. dollars) in defence spending over next four years.

Mr Johnson has promised to invest an extra £16.5bn in defence spending over the next four years.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said the deal is "enough" for the armed forces to be modernized but refused to be drawn on whether some of the new money will come from the country's overseas aid budget.

The prime minister, speaking as he set out a new multi-year funding package to the House of Commons, warned the "international situation is now more perilous and intensely competitive than at any time since the Cold War".

Charts showing the world's biggest military spenders as of 2019, according to the SIPRI data.

The annual Ministry of Defence budget is about £40 billion, meaning the newly announced extra cash is an increase of about 10 percent over four years.

"This is our chance to end the era of retreat, transform our Armed Forces, bolster our global influence, unite and level up our country, pioneer new technology and defend our people and way of life".

The plan was also read as a calculated message to the new Biden administration, harmonising transatlantic priorities on defence after Johnson also put climate change front and centre of his post-pandemic rebuilding policy.

Now, however, Johnson is attempting to make his country a major player - not only politically, but militarily, too.

"France has the first but not the second, Germany the second but not the first".

But Nissan - which operates Britain's largest auto plant in Sunderland - said it was already rolling out more electric cars.

The new financial deal comes just a week after Johnson promised US President-elect Joe Biden the United Kingdom was determined to remain a valuable military ally.

Biden will meanwhile take power in late January, with allies hoping his presidency marks a more stable period for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation after the tumult of the Trump years.

Christopher Miller, acting United States defense secretary in Trump's outgoing administration, welcomed the extra spending.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the extra spending reflected the need to upgrade military capabilities, with plans for a new space command and artificial intelligence agency.

Just one per cent of the UK's 33million cars are plug-ins, the RAC Foundation said, amid calls for more government investment to bring prices down and increase provision of charging sites. And a "space command" capable of launching the UK's first rocket by 2022 is also envisioned.

New frigates and other vessels would "restore Britain's position as the foremost naval power in Europe", Johnson said, while "illuminating the benefits of the (UK) union in the white light of the arc welder's torch".

The government also said new investment formed part of £12 billion mobilised for the plan, though Labour said only £4 billion of the funding was new and called for a much bigger investment in a green recovery.

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