• Thursday, July 18, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

Starmer commits to increasing defence spending

“I am committed to that 2.5 per cent within our fiscal rules, but that strategic review needs to come first,” Starmer said as he departed for a NATO summit in Washington.

Starmer says he will restore Britain to its 2.5 per cent growth pace of the early 2000s with a mix of reforms to the planning system. (Photo: Getty Images)

By: Vivek Mishra

Keir Starmer on Tuesday pledged to increase UK defence spending to 2.5 per cent of GDP, stating this would occur when the country could afford it and following a review of defence strategy.

“I am committed to that 2.5 per cent within our fiscal rules, but that strategic review needs to come first,” Starmer said as he departed for a NATO summit in Washington.

Starmer, whose Labour Party won a landslide election victory last week, emphasised fiscal prudence during his campaign.

In 2014, members of the transatlantic alliance agreed to commit 2 per cent of GDP to defence spending to ensure NATO’s military readiness.

This year, 23 of the 32 member countries will hit that target. With a growing threat from Russia, more countries have called for an increase to 2.5 per cent or more.

An analysis of UK defence spending published in April by the previous Conservative government showed NATO-qualifying defence spending was expected to be 2.32 per cent of GDP in the 2024-2025 financial year.

Starmer said Labour was planning to conduct a review of Britain’s defence challenges and capabilities.

On his first international trip as prime minister, Starmer aims to raise Britain’s profile on the international stage, hoping to capitalise on his large majority in parliament as a sign his government is a stable partner.

He said the summit would be a chance to display unity after a missile strike on a children’s hospital in Kyiv.

“My message is very, very clear: That this NATO summit is an opportunity for allies to stand together to strengthen their resolve, particularly in light of that appalling attack, against Russian aggression,” he said.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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