The UK is a permanent member of the UN security council, with a duty to uphold global peace and security. It holds the title of the fifth largest economy in the world, the second largest in Europe and the world’s number one ‘soft power’. Taking all those statistics into account, it should have the global defence budget to match its economic and social power; however, it does not.
Great Britain’s defence spending has been capped at just the required amount for a NATO member state of just two percent of GDP, this does not go far enough. As Britain embarks on taking its new role in the world after it comes out of the European Union, it should look ahead and raise defence spending to a minimum of three percent of GDP.
This rise of one percent would boost Britain’s capabilities globally, it would send a signal to Europe and the world that Brexit does not mean isolation. The UK should spend a considerable amount on its naval fleet to assist the new Queen Elizabeth Carriers as one example, with the commissioning of more destroyers and maritime vessels. A Britain outside the European Union, is one of globalism, a demonstration of global Britain, with an increased defence budget that enables Britain to exert British influence.
In January this year, the head of the British army, General Sir Nick Carter, warned that the country’s armed forces risk falling behind its potential enemies’ unless there is additional investment. He said the Kremlin already boasted an “eye-watering quantity of capability” – a level the UK would struggle to match. The threat of Russia is real, one in which the European Union has failed to act on, Britain should not fall trap to complacency just as the EU has.
Geopolitics has become a real issue in Europe, with the threat Russia displayed in the Russo-Georgian conflict of 2008 and the subsequent annexation of Crimea. Two acts of aggression by Russia, in which the European Union stood idle. That is why Britain must reinforce our commitment to the security of the European continent with a rise in defence spending. In doing so, it would put continued pressure on our NATO neighbours in Europe to at least commit to the minimum two percent of defence spending that NATO requires.
Therefore, in my opinion, the government must listen to the head of the British army and increase defence spending. It would not only protect jobs in the British shipbuilding and aerospace industry but send a very important signal to our allies and enemies- that Britain is going global and we are not backing away from European and global security as we leave the European Union.