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UKIP Defence Spokesman calls for European countries to increase defence spending


Published Feb 16, 2017

thumbnail_bill4.jpgUKIP Defence spokesman Bill Etheridge has called for European nations to increase their spending on defence.

The call comes as news emerged that the UK had failed to meet its pledge of 2% after an increase in GDP.

European leaders in Brussels received a warning from US Defence secretary Jim Mattis that allies must significantly increase their defense spending “if your nations do not want to see America moderate its commitment to this alliance”.

Such has been the decline in spending since the break-up of the Soviet Union that the Belgian military was forced to ask the U.S. for hand-me-down flak jackets for its soldiers when it deployed domestically in the wake of terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels in recent years.

Mr Etheridge, MEP for the West Midlands, said "With the twin threats of Islamic fundamentalism and a resurgent Russia, it is imperative that all NATO nations meet or exceed the agreed 2%.

"We have a crisis in Armed Forces recruitment despite government protestations there is no problem. We have a severe lack of heavy artillery, of operational submarines, carriers without aircraft and insufficient infantry fighting vehicles.

"The UK should not be in a position where an uplift in GDP means we miss our 2% target. We should be spending much more than that because we have a ground to make up after years of deficiencies.

"Unfortunately after years of Blairite internationalism where we send our troops to everyone else's conflicts and the mistaken belief that spending billions on foreign aid is better than defence spending, we have insufficient numbers of armed forces who are not properly equipped, and a Defence procurement system which is not fit for purpose.”

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