Former Defence Minister Philip Dunne has released a report highlighting the integral role of defence to British prosperity.

The review was commissioned by the Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson after he launched the Modernising Defence Programme (MDP) to strengthen the Armed Forces in the face of intensifying threats, alongside the Prime Minister and the Chancellor.

The independent review of defence’s contribution to national economic and social value by Philip Dunne looks right across the Armed Forces and industry to provide an in-depth picture to inform proposals for reform into the MDP.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

“Philip Dunne’s review shows how vital defence is, not only protecting us from global dangers and safeguarding our national prosperity, but also to our economy by creating thousands of specialist and highly-skilled jobs and creating billions in exports.

He paints a clear picture of how defence and defence industry reaches every corner of the UK and is central to employment in so many cities and towns.

He lays down some key challenges to consider as our Modernising Defence Programme continues to ensure defence is the best it can be in a post-Brexit Britain.”

The report also includes a number of recommendations for review, including: further research into the impact of significant procurements on national prosperity; building on the strong relationships with industry suppliers; and considering how the UK’s world-leading institutions could be given greater entrepreneurial freedoms.

Philip Dunne said:

“I am pleased to have been able to undertake this review and am grateful for the help of all those in and outside the Department who have contributed.

This is the first time for some years that an independent report has sought to look at the whole impact of Defence on the UK economy, its devolved nations and regions in England.

Defence has made a number of important steps in meeting its prosperity objective. It makes a major contribution to our economic well-being, with 500,000 people working directly and indirectly in Defence and over 25,500 apprentices developing skills. In several local communities Defence is one of the leading providers of high skilled jobs.

But there is more that can be done as Defence has to adapt to rapidly evolving technological threats, so too should it seize the opportunities to adapt and improve its own processes to help meet the challenges of the high-tech defence future.

I look forward to seeing how the MOD responds to this report and have confirmed to the Defence Secretary that I am willing to revisit in some months’ time how the Department has considered and where it has decided to implement these ideas.”

The industry makes a huge contribution across all regions of the UK whether as a major employer, a large investor or as a hub for local communities. Defence is the third largest landowner in the country with 220,000 hectares often benefiting remote and rural communities.

The report reveals that around 500,000 people support military activities across the UK. It outlines that the UK’s defence industry is one of the world’s strongest with an annual turnover of £22 billion supporting 260,000 jobs, many of which are highly skilled and well-paid. Most importantly, he acknowledges that defence is a major contributor to the nation’s skills and one of the largest employer of apprentices with over 25,500 currently enrolled.

23 COMMENTS

    • I believe they will read it. A global Britain needs a military component when negotiating trade deals with nations, especially in areas of tension. In the past, the British Empire baked in diehard military assurances as a way of cementing good and lasting relationships. Today, the UK has many overseas military agreements/commitments, and I feel sure they will increase exponentially as we leave the EU.

      • Maurice you’ve been saying this for a while on here, “global Britain” will need this and that for trade deals, it’s complete horse***

        Singapore has 35 fta’s, more than China, have a look online at countries like New Zealand and Japan and have a look at the amount of trade deals they have, there is absolutely no evidence that having a large powerful navy will increase chances of a trade deal. Governments are only interested in a few things when discussing a trade deal, money, will it be good for the countries economy, will it create jobs and most importantly, will all that secure votes to keep them in power, they couldn’t give a monkeys about the militaries of either nations, this is 2018 not 1818.

        “the British Empire baked in diehard military assurances as a way of cementing good and lasting relationships.”

        What like France who we were at war with for centuries, Spain? Russia? Austria? Italy? Japan? Germany?

        Please tell me which country that either wasn’t part of the Empire or we haven’t been to war with did we make a good and lasting relationship with because of our military power?

        Maurice during the first 250 years of Empire it was called imperial trade, we didn’t have free trade agreements with anybody, all trade was done within the empire, it was a closed market, that the Royal Navy protected.

        Only from the 1850’s when we repealed all the closed trade laws is when we started trading with the world, and it was successful because of the industrial revolution, but it wasn’t successful for long as other countries industrialised namely the US, our share of the world economy only went down from then and we went to war to open up new trade sometimes.

        This is the modern world economies grow without the global military to back it up, look at China and India, there militaries have become powerful after economic growth, the world bought Chinese and Indian made goods because they were cheap, nothing else.

        “Today, the UK has many overseas military agreements/commitments, and I feel sure they will increase exponentially as we leave the EU.”

        Why would they because of leaving the EU? We don’t have global military commitments because of trade, we have a couple of patrols for anti piracy on a trade route. And what new defence agreements are we going to be going in? We have agreements with all our allies.

        We have global military commitments because of geopolitics and defence treaties, that is the only reason why our commitments would grow, and that has sod all to do with leaving the EU.

        We could add another 20 escort vessels and that would just about cover our commitments we have now, we can barely commit to what we already have, years without rimpac presence, West Indies guard ship non existent, all the standing maritime patrols that we might put one ship in annually. And now we have two carriers to protect.

        We need to grow the Royal Navy because of the piss poor numbers we have at the minute not being enough for our standing commitments, not to randomly patrol trade routes that 4 or 5 other countries will have twice as much trade passing through with 10 times the economy and the military budget will be already patrolling, under the illusion us having a frigate in the party will sign us up a big fat trade deal.

        Time to get real mate.

        • Hello Sole, going to largely agree with you on this one as I don’t see a direct relationship between trade and military capability, unless the latter is used to coerce; perhaps Maurice’s fantasy fleet includes Monitors for gunboat diplomacy (just joking Maurice :-))

          However, I could see a soft power influence from increasing deployments East of Suez. Stronger engagement with countries in SE Asia and Australasia doesn’t guarantee any military commitment e.g. the Five Power Defence Arrangements, but may help influence trading relationships. I suspect there are significant concerns regarding China’s claims and ambitions in the region and specifically wrt potential exclusive fishing zones being declared not to mention mineral assets disputes. When Argentina ends up sinking a Chinese fishing vessel one wonders if we may see Chinese “coast guard” vessels escorting fishing fleets in future and if so for whose benefit? https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-35815444

          • I’ll keep this short, Britain is already building new overseas bases to help defend UK interests and security, but also demonstrating a military commitment to the regions; by simply being there. Take Cyprus, it depends heavily in the Creek zone on Britain’s bases.
            The growing tensions in the Far East will be one area where the UK will want to trade, and some countries will encourage us to include a military component, as an incentive for doing business? This concept is not unique to the UK, it is widely adopted by many major powers. The UK still has dependant states, and in some our military assets are there to reassure and support training.

            Therefore, ‘Global Britain’ and extended military reach are inseparable. Obviously, not all new future trade deals will include a military commitment in any shape or form. However, those that do, will require tangible support, and that could trigger a revisit of UK military capability, and possibly, further expenditure?

          • Haha Brazil still has one of those in service, oldest active warship in the world, amazing.

            I understand where you’re coming from there but remember increased military deployments would be an increase in/exercising hard power, there is no link between military and soft power as soft power is measured officially only on diplomacy, government, education, digital, enterprise, tech products, foreign policy and a few others. Hard power is military, population size and GDP.

            You’re right though we probably will see increased deployments east of suez but you’ve hit the nail on the head as to the reason why, China.

            I think by the time QE is there most SE Asian allies will already have trade deals with us, Japan have said they are ready to sign the one we have already as part of the EU straight away which is good. We already have deals with Singapore, Australia and New Zealand as part of EU so easy to sign over. And the EU are in advanced talks with ASEAN region Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines etc about a region to region FTA, we should be able to start negotiations at the same stage as we have been part of the negotiations.

            So let’s send our carrier there not with trade deals in mind, but reassuring our close allies that we will assist, and more importantly our capable to assist if needed, against an ever growing expansionist China.

          • Hello both,
            Maurice do you have any examples of “those that do, will require tangible support” either with the UK or someone else? Doesn’t mean there aren’t any but I’m not familiar with any and on that basis it seems unlikely to me that trade would be so directly linked to defence? Happy to be proved wrong which segues nicely into …

            Sole, thanks for correcting/educating me on “power” definitions, I should have checked before use. My intent was to convey that UK presence would be a “soft” reassurance to a country and/or region rather than a “hard” commitment/treaty/agreement for military support. I tend to favour the ambiguity of the UK’s multiple more “informal” relationships such as the Joint Expeditionary Force, Combined joint Expeditionary Force and Five Power Defence Arrangements because it makes it more difficult for potential adversaries to understand what a UK response might be. It seems to me that the UK has the potential for action but avoids the firm commitment to one (unless we specifically wish to make one on a case by case basis) and I like that unpredictability.

            Some would probably make the point that we wouldn’t make a difference either way based on our resources. But as an example, for all the mistakes prior to the Falklands, such as not sending clear messages to head the conflict off in the first place, what still resonates with me from that time is the rapidity, scope and determination of the response not to mention the daunting logistics and power projection which seemed to surprise the world who had more of less written off the UK. Resources today are different of course but that history is still there to raise questions in the minds of others along with the UK’s historic commitment to allies to its own disadvantage.

          • I would just add that the deployment of HMS Sutherland “on tour” around Australia apparently (not sure how you’d quantify it) had a favourable effect on choosing Type 26 for SEA5000.

            I think this kind of military showcase or “flag waving” tour is the new way to generate trade worldwide, albeit most likely military based. It’s something the Royal Navy happen to be very good at.

          • Thanks, Steve M, you at least see my point. British arms sales may also be part of any new trade deals. Many of these could include initial deployment of British service personnel, to help the customer introduce their forces to the new equipment? Such exercises would pull on resources.

  1. With the big resignations today and Williamson sitting right next to the PM in the Commons. She might just cave into his funding demands to keep him on side.

    • She has way too many other problems and Williamson will not upset the apple cart further by resigning. He may not get another cabinet post if there is a new PM.

      In fact I cannot see TM lasting much longer. I hope I am wrong as the alternatives seem far worse, Boris as PM for instance.

    • It doesn’t look as though TM will be around long enough to make that decision. Williamson may not last either.

      Farcical scenes at Westminster.

      • May ain’t going anywhere but staying put in No10. I don’t think there has been a woman like her before. Thatcher was shakable, and that vulnerability showed, if only rarely. May is a survivor, she makes a complete Horlicks of the election, yet carries on with hardly a sidewards glance. During the Brexit debacle, she held her ground, even against hostile SNP sniper attacks.
        On Friday she held that Cabinet meeting knowing that is she was to resign then it would have been at the closure of the meeting. Now she has a mandate with the majority of the cabinet standing by her. As for the two who walked, Davis always knew he’d cop it at some point along the way, and Boris was not loved as much as he believed!
        Defence is in a good place at the moment and I think Williamson will hold station, that is if he’s not offered the Foreign Office??

        • I posted that just at the point it was reported that the rebels had enough for the vote of no confidence, which seems to have fallen by the wayside. Indeed JRM even said last night that he would not vote against the PM if there was one. Interesting times!

          Boris as Foreign Secretary was always ridiculous. If reports are to be believed he didn’t listen to or read his briefs so just winged every meeting. Can’t believe some still consider him PM material.

          • If May’s Brexit proposal fails and we leave with little in the way of trade agreements, Boris may stay silent. However, if her proposal remains virtually intact, and we leave on her terms, then we could well see the return of Boris in the capacity of a brand new leader of a right-wing party? Most of whom could be those Conservatives who showed their displeasure and walked, plus others that see Boris as the man to force another referendum within two or three years after leaving. It will most likely take that amount of time, in order to make a true assessment of what effect Brexit has had on the economy. Of cause, it’s all conjecture, but some say Britain needs a third party and with UKIP’s demise, a new political force may prove to be a welcome development?

        • @Maurice,

          Yes!

          one could almost be forgiven for thinking the poor election result for the Conservatives was a very good election result for her and a Soft Brexit.

          Had she gone in to Brexit with a real mandate and good numbers she would have become dispensable and given the UK government a much stronger hand in Brexit negotiations. As it is, she is now indispensable and the EU will not have to face any negotiations, Brexit is now spelled R-E-M-A-I-N. If this WAS the plan, May has my respect – it was a supreme act of politicking.

  2. Gentlemen!
    Please be patient. It would be prudent to see what happens.

    I do hope that whoever is in power builds up our armed forces!

    It should be a stable agreed situation between the different Parties as in other countries!

    A strong Defence means respect! It’s about time our political parties realise that!

    Nick (Hamburg Germany)

    Ps as expat…… very sad with all that’s going on!

  3. Hello David Cameron – are you pleased with yourself? Some of this is down to you. Plus where are the 13 type 26 warships and why should we also not have at least 8 t31 warships as well as a replacement HMS Ocean in order to take the pressure off properly supporting commonwealth countries, flat decks and the carriers, in order to balance the Russian defence spending growth (over the last 5 years) in submarines, warships, replacement tanks and new fighter jets, not leave out a mention of newer anti-ship missile development.
    Yes, the 35bn defence budget black hole was down to the labour party, but Brexit put a spanner in the works, and we are still shy of balancing the defence budget in 2018. 2% has nothing to do with responding to the Russian increases in defence spending and their new kit.
    in USD for comparison
    2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
    Russia 81469.4 88352.9 84696.5 66418.7 69245.3 66335.0
    France 60035.2 62417.1 63613.6 55342.1 57358.4 57770.1
    UK 58495.7 56861.8 59182.9 53862.2 48118.9 47193.1

    • KeithSware, not sure that you are being fair here, The labour governments of Blair and Brown, committed our forces at the same time as hollowing them out, during a time of relative prosperity. Cameron on the other hand inherited a disaster and made some thought decisions across a whole range of depts.

      I really want public spending to be correctly targeted and for the country to provide services, not income to those in need.

      I would also like a lot more spent on defence and policing, but we also have to change the culture of our country and governments.

      Poor government by a lot of parties in the last 30 year has led us to this, not a single person.

  4. We had all better hope that TM is still there tomorrow and succeeds in getting her plan through, cause although highly complex and tortuous, it’s the only game in town. The alternatives are either unacceptable or too horrible to contemplate. Her success is also the best guarantee or at least hope that the defence budget will survive or grow a bit more. If she’s defeated it’ll lead to chaos and anything could happen, including the other side getting in and if that happens I fear for the defence of this country. So let’s stop dreaming, let’s stop rocking the boat, support the PM and keep fingers crossed she can reach a deal with the EU. And I say that never having been a fan of her or this government, but I’m a realist.

  5. Sole survivor. At least in my opinion you have won by knockout. For the others whatever you passionately believe is not helped by arguments that are at best deeply subjective.

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