Mike Hookem MEP, UKIP Defence Spokesman, has today backed a Tory backbench revolt, lead by John Baron MP, aimed at forcing David Cameron to meet NATO’s minimum 2% of GDP spending commitment, saying, “Although it is very late in the day, it seems at least a few Tories have woken up, grown a backbone and realised the damage Cameron is doing to our armed forces through his smoke and mirrors approach to defence spending”.
Mike, who last week announced UKIP’s firm policy commitment to meet the NATO 2% spending target, continued; “The Conservatives are wriggling like maggots on a hook in their attempts to use creative accounting to meet the 2% minimum commitment, instead of funding our troops properly.
“Despite assurances during the debate that the UK will meet the NATO commitment this year, it is only due to the Government including £800 million of war pensions in the expenditure budget that this has been possible. Now we hear No10 Head of Policy, Oliver Letwin is investigating whether the £1.9 billion of intelligence spending can also be included in the NATO targets, in what I can only describe as a dodgy face saving exercise, following Cameron’s lecture on defence spending to other western leaders last year.”
“The traditional parties need to realise that the world has changed significantly since 2010 and the assumptions made in the SDSR are no longer valid. Our military must have the security of budget growth year on year through a minimum 2% of GDP guarantee to have the flexibility to respond and develop our armed forces to meet present and future threats. This will ensure the UK can have a strong foreign policy, backed by a strong military option if it is so required.”
“However, even more worrying was a report released this week by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) which warned another 30,000 troops would need to be cut in the next parliament, unless defence spending was significantly raised in real terms. As good as it looks on paper, manipulation of the figures will not stop further military job losses and capability cuts. This is something UKIP is determined to tackle and we give an absolute commitment to raising the defence budget to pre 2010 SDSR levels as well as upholding the our NATO commitment.”
“I am disappointed that despite this vote being passed with little opposition, the outcome is non-binding. Surely if we can ring fence foreign aid in law, we could do the same thing with our defence budget, as the first duty of government is defence of the nation.”