British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is on a tour of the US on Monday for a trilateral meeting with US President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, during which he confirmed a hike in Britain’s defence budget of an extra GBP 5 billion over the next two years.
The world leaders will agree on details of a UK-US agreement to supply Australia with nuclear-powered submarines as part of the AUKUS pact, which was signed in 2021 as part of a joint effort to counter Chinese military power in the Indo-Pacific region.
Downing Street said GBP 3 billion from the extra defence spending would be earmarked to support the pact, along with boosting industrial infrastructure and servicing UK submarines. “As the world becomes more volatile and competition between states becomes more intense, the UK must be ready to stand our ground,” said Sunak.
“By investing in our armed forces for the long-term, we will be ready for the challenges of today and of the future. As I will discuss with our American and Australian allies in the US today, the UK will remain a leading contributor to NATO and a reliable international partner, standing up for our values from Ukraine to the South China Seas,” he said.
“We have seen all too clearly in the last year how global crises impact us at home, with Russia’s appalling invasion of Ukraine driving up energy and food prices. We will fortify our national defences, from economic security to technology supply chains and intelligence expertise, to ensure we are never again vulnerable to the actions of a hostile power,” he added.
The announcement comes ahead of the government’s update to its 2021 ‹Integrated Review›, which had defined the UK’s so-called Indo-Pacific tilt in a post-Brexit scenario.
From Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine to China’s growing economic coercion, the world is becoming more dangerous.
The UK is responding.
Today we have published a refreshed Integrated Review, setting out how we’ll meet the challenge of a more contested and volatile world.
— UK Prime Minister (@10DowningStreet) March 13, 2023
The 2023 (IR23) will be tabled in Parliament to confirm that an additional GBP 5 billion will be provided to the Ministry of Defence over the next two years to help replenish and bolster vital ammunition stocks, modernise the UK’s nuclear enterprise and fund the next phase of the AUKUS submarine programme.
It follows a GBP 24 billion four-year uplift in defence spending in 2020, the largest sustained increase since the Cold War, Downing Street said.
As part of the refresh, Sunak has set out an ambition to increase defence spending to 2.5 per cent of GDP in the longer term, with a further review of defence spending set for post-2025.