Former defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon has welcomed the boost to defence spending in the Autumn Budget, saying the “threat is rising from Russia” and more money is needed to prepare the UK.
“It’s very welcome,” he told Julia Hartley-Brewer of the extra billion Chancellor Philip Hammond allocated to the Ministry of Defence.
“There have been pressures on the nuclear submarine that carries our deterrent, a missile, for some time now, it’s very welcome that the Chancellor’s given an extra billion there.
“Now we have the promise of a spending review next year where we will need to take account of the rising threats. We’ve seen the threat rising from Russia, particularly this year.”
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Hartley-Brewer remarked that a billion is a “drop in the ocean” when “so many different threats” exist.
“That’s why others have called for a bigger increase,” said Sir Michael.
“The defence committee have called for 3.5% of our wealth to be spent on defence.
“The target at the moment is 2% - I’ve suggested raising that to two and a half percent by the end of parliament.
“The threats around the world are rising, not just from Russia, also for cyber attacks, but if we want as a country to keep leading in NATO, to promote our values around the world and defend fragile democracies, that has to be paid for. I hope this will be the start of a serious increases in the defence budget.”
'Campaigning for a bigger budget'
Sir Michael Fallon visits a nuclear missile-carrying submarine in 2016. Image: Getty
Defence was not given a boost in last year’s Budget, which came just after Sir Michael’s tenure in the cabinet ended.
Hartley-Brewer asked if he’d campaigned for more money as vocally as his successor, Gavin Williamson, who has clashed with the Prime Minister in the past over his calls for more money.
“Gavin Williamson has spent a long time badgering the Chancellor for spending on defence, did you do the same or did you do it behind the scenes? Because you didn’t get the extra cash when you were there,” Harley-Brewer said.
“We started this campaign with the Treasury back in the spring of 2017,” Sir Michael replied. “That’s nearly two years ago I went to the Chancellor and the Prime Minister and explained the pressures on the nuclear submarine programme.
“I was campaigning throughout my time for a bigger defence budget, reversing the defence cuts, but these were new pressures from ‘17 onwards and I’m delighted they are now being recognised.”
He added that he thought the Budget would “insulate us from the shocks from Brexit”.