In an international situation “more perilous” and “intensely competitive” than ever since the Cold War, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday announced an investment in defense of an amount unmatched for 30 years.
These expenses represent an increase of approximately 10% in defense spending over the current budget.
These announcements come at a decisive moment for the United Kingdom, the outcome of negotiations with the European Union to try to conclude a free trade agreement to be known in the days to come, all in the midst of a pandemic linked to the new coronavirus.
The United Kingdom will invest 190 billion pounds in defense over the next four years (212 billion euros), or 2.2% of its GDP, “more than any other European country” and “more than any other ally within NATO, except the United States“, said the head of the conservative government to the deputies.
“The international situation is more perilous and intensely competitive than ever since the Cold War”, he added, highlighting the opportunity for the country to end a “fallback era” in the matter.
Rocket launch from Scotland
Drones, cybersecurity, new center dedicated to artificial intelligence, the head of government has spelled out the cutting-edge technologies on which the United Kingdom is working and stressed that the projects concerning the British navy will make it possible to “restore the UK’s position as the leading naval power in Europe“.
He also confirmed the creation of a new space command to send people into space. “British satellites” and “our first rocket, from Scotland, in 2022”.
All of these projects will create up to 10,000 jobs per year, according to Boris Johnson.
The announcement of this plan was read by some observers as a message to the future government of US President-elect Joe Biden.
“Which European country has both the potential to project military might and historic support for American leadership?”, said Paul Goodman, a former Conservative MP, on the ConservativeHome political blog. “France has the first but not the second, Germany has the second but not the first. Only the UK ticks both boxes”, he wrote.
Labor opposition leader Keir Starmer, meanwhile, endorsed the spending increase, but denounced the lack of “strategy” and of “clarity”, in particular on their financing.