BRITISH PACIFISTS HAVE CONDEMNED Boris Johnson’s announcement of a sharp rise in military spending, describing it as an insult to everyone struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.

The Peace Pledge Union (PPU), Britain’s leading pacifist network, is planning protests against the policy in the coming weeks. It says that increasing military spending will not help people in Ukraine, prevent future wars or make people in the UK any safer.

The UK already has the fourth highest military spending in the world, according to the latest academic analyses. In November 2020, Boris Johnson announced the biggest increase in military spending since the Cold War.

The PPU described the term ‘defence spending’ as a euphemism, as it does not include defence against many of the most serious threats that we face, including poverty, pandemics and climate change.

Symon Hill, Campaigns Manager of the Peace Pledge Union, said: “After telling British workers to exercise pay restraint, Boris Johnson has barely paused for breath before announcing a whopping increase in the billions spent on weapons and war.

“A hypothetical future invasion is a long way down the list of threats faced by people in the UK. If you’re queueing at a food bank, anxious about heating bills or unable to buy toys for your children, then your life will not be made safer or better by an increased budget for long-range rocket artillery. The only thing this policy will defend is the profits of arms dealers.

“The militarist lobby and the arms industry have cynically used the horrific war in Ukraine to push for higher military spending. This is a massive insult to people suffering in Ukraine. The UK government and other NATO members have poured billions of pounds into military spending in recent years, but this failed to stop Putin’s vile invasion. Boris Johnson has not explained why a policy that failed to stop war in Ukraine will somehow be effective in stopping future wars. There can be no military solution to the Ukraine crisis, which can be ended only by meaningful peace negotiations.

“While British military bosses like to talk about Ukraine, they are a lot quieter about the repeated use of British troops to train the forces of some of the world’s most vicious regimes, including the Saudi forces attacking civilians in Yemen.”

As the British section of War Resisters’ International, the PPU condemned Putin’s invasion of Ukraine on the day it began and has remained in contact with peace activists in Russia and Ukraine.

On 25 April 2022, academic research published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SPIRI) revealed that in 2021, global military spending passed $2 trillion a year for the first time. It also showed that NATO’s military spending was more than 17 times as high as Russia’s during 2021, and that the UK has the fourth highest military spending in the world.

* More information on global military spending from SPIRI here.

* Source: Peace Pledge Union