Rayleigh and Wickford MP and former Armed Forces Minister, Mark Francois, has warmly welcomed the substantial increase in the Defence budget which has been announced by Prime Minister, Boris Johnson MP.
The increase amounts to some £16 billion above previously published plans for the next four years. This plus-up, of around £4 billion more a year, represents a roughly 10% increase in funding for Defence, above the £40 billion a year already provided for our Armed Forces.
This extra funding will pay for a number of key increases in our defence capability, including:
- Strengthening the new National Cyber Force, which combines the MoD and GCHQ, to help protect us from threats in cyberspace
- A new Space Command, to take control of the UK’s military satellites and monitor space-based military activity
- Both of our new 65,000-ton aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales to be operational, with F-35 fighter jets by 2023
- 8 new Type 26 Frigates to help escort the carriers, plus 5 Type 31 frigates for more general duties as well
- Modernising equipment for the British Army, including to help combat drone warfare
- Committing to a new RAF fighter programme, The Tempest, to help maintain air superiority well into the 21st century.
The new package is also intended to both sustain, and hopefully create up to 40,000 new jobs in the Defence industry, including potentially at sites in Essex, such as the high-tech Leonardo facility at Christopher Martin Road in Basildon.
Mark Francois, who is now a member of the House of Commons Defence Committee, also pointed out that this increase takes the UK’s spending on Defence to around 2.2% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), above the NATO target of 2% for its members to spend on their security, as part of the wider NATO Alliance.
Commenting on the increase, Mark, (who served as an infantry officer in the Territorial Army during the Cold War) said:
“This substantial increase in the defence budget is now necessary to continue to combat potential threats from countries such as China and Russia. I have always believed that the Defence of the Realm is the first duty of Government and it is good to see that our brave Armed Forces are going to be given the resources they need to help keep us safe.”