RISHI SUNAK HAS BEEN URGED to abandon Liz Truss’ plan of raising military spending to three per cent of national income – effectively an increase of 60 per cent on current spending levels.
As Sunak reappointed Ben Wallace as Defence Secretary, there was speculation that he would give into Wallace’s demands on the issue. Last week, Wallace was reported to be ready to resign from Liz Truss’ government if she did not retain the three per cent commitment.
The Peace Pledge Union (PPU), Britain’s leading pacifist group, said that the policy would represent a handout for arms dealers at a time when millions of people are struggling to pay the bills. The UK already has the fourth highest military expenditure in the world.
Research published last month by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) found that the promise of raising defence spending to three per cent of national income by 2030 represents a 60 per cent increase on current levels, and will cost £157 billion.
The PPU said that increasing military spending will not make people in the UK any more secure, help people suffering in Ukraine or prevent future wars.
They suggested that funding public services, housing and healthcare would do more to make people’s lives secure, as well as tackling the climate emergency and ending arms deals.
Symon Hill, Campaigns Manager of the Peace Pledge Union (PPU), said: “If you’re struggling to pay your rent or mortgage, missing meals to feed your children or shivering [because] it’s too expensive to turn the heat on, then your life won’t be made better or safer by warships, missiles and larger armed forces.
“Only somebody too privileged to worry about the cost of living could think that security is about having more weapons. ‘Defence’ spending is a euphemism, as it doesn’t cover defence against many of the most serious threats that we face, including poverty, pandemics and climate chaos.
“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 of Ukraine. History shows time and again that preparing for war doesn’t bring peace.”
On 25 April 2022, academic research published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) 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.
As the British section of War Resisters’ International, the Peace Pledge Union works with pacifists and other anti-war campaigners around the world. Throughout the Ukraine crisis, the PPU has remained in regular contact with the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, the Russian Movement for Conscientious Objectors, and other Russian anti-war activists.
* Read the SIPRI research on global and UK military spending here.
* Source: Peace Pledge Union