UK military spending increase 'a totally inappropriate response to the pandemic'

By Agencies
November 20, 2020

Campaigners have urged the government to rethink its priorities following the announcement that it will be increasing the military budget by an extra £16 billion over the next four years. The Ministry of Defence budget is around £40 billion per year, so this represents a 10 per cent increase, the largest rise in UK military spending for three decades.

Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade said: "This is a totally inappropriate response to the pandemic. Only a matter of days ago the government was telling us that there wasn’t enough money to feed hungry school students during the holidays, but now it has found an extra £16 billion to add to what was already one of the biggest military budgets in the world.

"COVID has exposed the impact of cuts and austerity. It is essential that the economy is rebuilt, but that should be based on sustainable jobs and industries that can help to create a stronger, greener and safer economy. The money should be used to build the green jobs that we need, and to fund the goods and services that we all rely on. It should not be used to buy evermore complex and deadly weapon systems.

"For far too long, UK security policy has been focused on military solutions, foreign wars of aggression and hypocritical and dangerous partnerships with human rights abusing regimes. These policies have caused a great deal of damage and have done nothing to keep us safe from many of the biggest threats, such as pandemics and climate change.

"The government should reconsider its priorities. Our security is not advanced by throwing money at the military. It is strengthened by building fairer societies that support the most vulnerable, and by investing in our public services."

The Peace Pledge Union (PPU) pointed out that the extra spending is more than 53 times the cost of schemes for extending free school meals provision in England into the school holidays.

The PPU also said that the decision was perverse after a year in which the Covid pandemic had demonstrated that constant preparations for war cannot keep us safe. The UK already has the eighth highest military spending in the world, and the second highest in NATO. 

The PPU urged Labour and other opposition parties to oppose the increase in military spending and to recognise that jobs and economic improvements could be better created through funding more socially useful industries.

Symon Hill, Campaigns Manager of the Peace Pledge Union, said: “Is this government more concerned with the profits of arms dealers than the needs of hungry children?

“After a year in which our security has been threatened by a deadly virus, with the headlines full of PPE shortages, underpaid care workers and the need for free school meals, Boris Johnson is promising to throw another £16 billion into yet more preparations for war. In the last two decades alone, the disastrous wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya have taught us that it is unrealistic to imagine you can solve deep-seated problems with bombs. Tanks and warplanes can’t keep us safe from the most serious threats we face: pandemics, poverty and climate change. Covid 19 has exposed the hollowness of naive claims that weapons can make us safe. You can’t nuke a virus.”

* Peace Pledge Union https://www.ppu.org.uk/

* Campaign Against Arms Trade https://caat.org.uk/

[Ekk/6]

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