Given the flow of voter-friendly announcements the government is making in the build up to the General Election, the Prime Minister’s refusal to guarantee that Defence spending stays at 2% of GDP suggests he does not see it as a vote-winning commitment.
UKIP, however, believes that the emphasis our government should place on defence of the Realm must depend on the threat to British citizens, territories and interests, not on the General Election cycle.
To reduce Defence spending when the risk of overseas crises, the threat from militant jihadists, and the need to strengthen NATO are all increasing, would be culpable negligence. The international and domestic security situations are both deteriorating, not improving, so maintaining Defence spending at 2% of GDP is a sensible policy, regardless of whether it attracts votes on May 7th.
But as well as the historic obligation to protect British citizens and interests, the government has also given NATO an assurance that it will spend 2% of GDP on defence, even when most of the 28 member states do not.
For generations, by what it has invested in NATO, and the performance of its forces, the UK has been a leading light in the Alliance. If it reneges on the 2% funding commitment its standing and ability to exhort other members to commit more to NATO will be seriously undermined.
At a time when NATO must send Russia a clear signal that it remains a credible military Alliance with a strong commitment to collective self-defence, reducing the money available to maintain or improve defence capabilities would be short-sighted folly.
UKIP therefore urges the Prime Minister to make a commitment to maintain Defence spending at 2% of GDP. It is the responsible thing to do, regardless of when there is a General Election.