The Chancellor Philip Hammond has pledged an extra £1bn for defence in order to boost cyber capability and the Dreadnought submarine program.
The Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has been campaigning for an increase in spending since taking office last year. In June 2018, it was reported that he had asked the Prime Minister Theresa May for an extra £4 billion a year. Prominent defence advocate Johnny Mercer MP praised the “good work” from Williamson in lobbying the treasury.
Williamson hailed the announcement, saying it will “allow defence to modernise our critical assets, such as our offensive cyber capabilities, anti-submarine warfare and our nuclear deterrent.
The extra £1 billion for defence on top of the £800 million increase this summer represents a substantial financial boost and reaffirms our commitment to protecting national security”.
Philip Hammond says the £1bn extra for MoD is designed "to boost our cyber capabilities and our anti-submarine warfare capacity, and to maintain the pace of the Dreadnought programme to ensure continuous-at-sea-deterrence".
— Lucy Fisher (@LOS_Fisher) October 29, 2018
In July, US Secretary of Defence James Mattis wrote to Williamson to express concern that the UK’s status as a leading military power “is at risk of erosion”. Mattis also suggested Britain’s “special relationship” with the US could be at risk without the UK increasing the amount it spends on defence.
“It is in the best interest of both our nations for the UK to remain the US partner of choice. In that spirit, the UK will need to invest and maintain robust military capability.”
James Mattis, US Secretary of Defence
Despite the increase, a long term solution to the £20bn black hole has been delayed by at least 6 months until the 2019 spending review.
Earlier this year, the Defence Select Committee recommended an increase in the defence budget to 3% of GDP in order to maintain influence and capability.
Today’s boost will prevent further cuts to equipment. At the Tory Party Conference last month, it was announced that the amphibious assault ships HMS Albion and Bulwark would be saved from cuts. Many however anticipated that their saving would come at a cost: the early retirement of several Type 23 frigates. The extra £1bn will likely to prevent this.