The UK defence budget is set to rise by £16.5 billion in 2021 in an effort by the UK Government to bolster national security; this is the biggest military spending boost in the UK in 30 years. In March 2021, Prime Minister Boris Johnson made the even more controversial announcement that the UK would lift the cap on their nuclear weapon stockpile, intending to arm the country with a further eighty Trident nuclear warheads. This all comes amidst a changing global political landscape defined by watershed moments such as Brexit and the global pandemic.
Was the Johnson government right to escalate military and nuclear weapon spending in this way?
Is the UK’s national security at a greater risk after leaving the EU?
What do you think of the UK’s defence spending?
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By NATO standards the UK is already spending enough on defence, meeting the 2% (of their GDP) target expected of NATO member states. The UK is third in terms of percentage of GDP spent of all NATO members, behind the US and Greece, but considering Greece’s smaller economy, the UK is only really second to the US in terms of military spending. The UK is likewise outspending most other nations of a similar size by population and GDP, second only to France in all of Europe in 2019. In increasing military spending in 2021 the UK is set to become the 4th highest global military spender, and more importantly, is completely breaking down what has been the international norm since the cold war by announcing plans to increase their nuclear weapons stockpiles. The UK has been spending an adequate amount on the country’s defence needs and there is definitely no need for further escalation of nuclear tensions.