Saying the world is now more perilous and competitive than at any time since the Cold War, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson proposed Thursday adding nearly $22 billion in new defense spending over the next four years.
Speaking remotely to Parliament while isolating for COVID-19 exposure, Johnson said based on the current international situation and his foreign policy goals, he has decided “the era of cutting our defense budget must end, and it ends now.”
The prime minister said he was making the proposal in the middle of a pandemic, with multiple demands on the economy, because “the defense of the realm and the safety of the British people must come first.”
Johnson told lawmakers the four-year financial package for the Ministry of Defense will pivot Britain’s military toward potential future threats with funding for space and cyber-defense projects, such as an artificial intelligence agency.
He said the spending plan will create jobs, with plans to build at least 13 new ships, “restore Britain’s position as the foremost naval power in Europe” and boost British shipbuilding across the nation.
Main opposition Labor party leader Keir Starmer, both praised the announcement as long overdue, and questioned how Johnson intended to pay for it.
Fearing a change in the British government’s spending priorities, former British prime minister Gordon Brown urged the government not to break its promises on international aid to some of the world’s poorest countries.
More details likely will emerge next week when Treasury chief Rishi Sunak unveils details regarding the country’s spending plans for the coming year.