UK urges European countries to increase defence spending

    WORLD  17 April 2024 - 20:45

    Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt has said that Britain will have to spend more on defence as he faces growing calls from Tory MPs to boost the military budget.

    The Chancellor said that the UK and its European allies must take greater responsibility for their own security amid the heightened threat from Russia and Iran, The Telegraph reports.

    During a trip to the United States on April 17 he added that Donald Trump was right to demand the continent increase its defence spending.

    Mr Hunt, who has said he will increase defence spending to 2.5 per cent of GDP once it is affordable to do so, admitted that the military will need more money.

    “It’s very important that European countries recognise that when it comes to America’s role in the world, we are actors, not observers,” he said in remarks reported by Politico.

    “In the end, we have to be prepared to spend more on defence. That is a reasonable request from the United States that Europe contributes more to its own defence.”

    He said that Mr Trump, the former US president running for a second term in office, was right to have “made that case very loudly”.

    But he added that the argument that Europe must shoulder a greater burden has “been made by every American president while I’ve been in public life”.

    It comes after the Chancellor said last month that the UK needed to return to economic growth in order to spend more on its military.

    Mr Hunt was challenged over the fact he was able to find cash for tax cuts in last month’s Spring Budget, but no new money for defence, enraging Tory MPs.

    The Chancellor told the BBC: “If we’re going to spend more money on defence, as I believe we will need to do in the future, what we need to have is a healthily growing economy.”

    Mr Hunt is under pressure from Tory MPs, including several fellow Cabinet members, to speed up a cash injection into the military, with some senior Conservatives calling for a domestic “Iron Dome” to defend Britain from missile attacks.

    Grant Shapps, the Defence Secretary who has been tipped for a future tilt at the Tory leadership, has been among those publicly calling for a boost.

    He has said that the military budget should ultimately rise to 3 per cent of GDP, a figure which was also advocated by Liz Truss, the former prime minister.

    Penny Mordaunt, another potential contender, has also made clear that she wants to see more funding ploughed into the Navy in particular.

    Downing Street has said that the UK is the largest defence spender in Europe and the second largest in NATO, behind only the US.

    Caliber.Az

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