Mark Francois, the MP for Rayleigh and Wickford and former Armed Forces Minister, has warmly welcomed a substantial increase in UK defence spending, announced by Secretary of State for Defence, Grant Shapps MP.

In a response to an Oral Statement on Defence spending in the House of Commons, Francois praised the initiative, highlighting its potential impact:

“Can I commend the Secretary of State for obtaining this massive £75 billion increase in Defence spending, which theoretically would actually allow us to buy 20 new Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers? At the risk of upsetting our excellent First Sea Lord, we are not likely to do that, but we are putting our Defence Industry on a ‘war footing’, so can we do the concomitant thing and create a war reserve of equipment with older Typhoons, older Warships and older Armoured vehicles, so that if we had to fight at short notice, we would have enough equipment to do it and so we can tell our adversaries when we say ‘Si vis pacem, para bellum’, we actually mean it.”

Secretary Shapps responded appreciatively to Francois’s comments, acknowledging his extensive knowledge and advocacy in defence matters. Shapps clarified that the substantial funding would not go towards new aircraft carriers but suggested an alternative use of the resources:

“Can I thank my Rt Hon Friend, not just for his words but for his constant campaigning on this subject. Those of us who have been subject to him in a Select Committee know that he knows his facts, knows what he is talking about and has done as much as anyone to ensure that this uplift is happening. I can confirm to the House that we won’t be using the £75 billion to buy 20 new Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers. He mentions an interesting point about what we can do with the older equipment and I have to say to my Rt Hon Friend that right now, I am much more minded to send that equipment to Ukraine and that is why yesterday, I pulled together the biggest package of donations to date, on this now third-year war and I think for the time being we will be sending in the Easterly direction.”

Francois further elaborated on the implications of the increase, stressing the importance of readiness and the role of the defence industry in national security:

“As the first duty of Government is the Defence of the Realm, I warmly welcome the announcement on increased defence spending. Not only will this ensure that the MoD’s ten-year Equipment Plan will now be fully affordable, it also includes an emphasis on placing our defence industry on a ‘war footing’ with reduced bureaucracy and increased stockpiles – to deter our potential adversaries.”

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Marked
Marked (@guest_816725)
20 days ago

Nothing to applaud, it hasn’t happened yet!

Andy reeves
Andy reeves (@guest_817602)
17 days ago
Reply to  Marked

and unless the industrial base! is improved. it will take a decade to make a difference.

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg (@guest_816726)
20 days ago

More could and should be done but I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to celebrate some positive news for a change

Frank Brejcha
Frank Brejcha (@guest_816729)
20 days ago

Whilst I applaud the support being given to Ukraine, , I think it is really important for the UK Government to increase spending on boosting our Armed Forces strengths. In the short term keep the Tornados going, as well other military equipment earmarked for the scrap yard . Get some more plans in place for upgrading these older planes, ships, tanks etc . Yes. it costs significant amounts of money but we are in a new era of Cold War and Britain should not be caught on the back foot which right now we surely are.

Andy reeves
Andy reeves (@guest_817605)
17 days ago
Reply to  Frank Brejcha

much as I applaud the.bravery of the Ukrainians, I’m sure I’m in a minority in say we’ve now given them enough of our! kit the russians are advancing everywhere and all the equipment supplied isn’t making a transferable difference

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_816730)
20 days ago

Usual piffle. Nothing happens till after the GE when they are out, so, pure politics.
No commitment from DS to increase the military or reverse the cuts.

George Amery
George Amery (@guest_816732)
20 days ago

Hi folks hope all is well. Very good to see this , and indeed sounds very laudabale when we hear such statements. However, I do have concerns if this really is going to happen, especially when Labour are in government. There’s an issue that I have personally when talking to friends. I’ve mentioned on here before. It’s when I come up against those that believe we spend too much on defence and it should be cut. I have to convince them the need to have a strong well equipped military. Although I’m encouraged by the latest polls that demonstrate a… Read more »

Jon
Jon (@guest_816772)
20 days ago
Reply to  George Amery

I’m really not an expert. I find after several years of making the case, in the current environment I barely need to. Most people are already convinced of the need. I used to lead with the primary peacetime role of Defence, that of deterrence, and liken it to insurance. I’d explain that if we have to go to war, we’d have failed to deter, and deterrence needs finance to avoid war rather than just to fight it. I’d also throw in a few other roles, UN peacekeeping, disaster relief, intelligence gathering, then go back to “si vis pacem”. It worked… Read more »

George Amery
George Amery (@guest_816779)
20 days ago
Reply to  Jon

Many thanks for the detailed advice, very helpful indeed!
Cheers
George

Andrew D
Andrew D (@guest_816733)
20 days ago

And with a General election coming up 🤔 time to say the right things and decisions .2.5% still not enough it should be at least 3% in my opinion .Still looking like Labour government soon ,so what’s it matter what the the Conservatives say 😕🇬🇧

Michael Hannah
Michael Hannah (@guest_816736)
20 days ago

It is an accounting con. They are rolling aid for Ukraine into the figure. Although I very firmly agree , in fact we should be doing more. Aid to Ukraine should be seperate .
It is time we had honest defence review that is NOT treasury led!!

Andy reeves
Andy reeves (@guest_817607)
17 days ago
Reply to  Michael Hannah

agreed there there’s room much money getting plowed info fly by night fantasy project;s

AlbertStarburst
AlbertStarburst (@guest_816738)
20 days ago

I trust Francois on this matter.
I do NOT trust Shapps.

Also, aid to Ukraine should be a separate thing.

Phil Chadwick
Phil Chadwick (@guest_816742)
20 days ago

We need to have a much greater presence in those areas of world that are contested. We need to do more to protect and defend the UK and its interests. The best way to do that is to have a much larger Royal Navy with more ships and a greater level of availability. But there is one priority that is above that, and that is our People. We need to do much more to make serving in the RN, RFA (especially the RFA) and the Armed Forces in general an attractive and worthwhile career. A significant pay rise is urgently… Read more »

Jonboy
Jonboy (@guest_816745)
20 days ago
Reply to  Phil Chadwick

Absolutely agree with Phil. A couple of adds for me. Need more submarines as well as ships, plus increase the size of the Royal Marines.

Quentin D63
Quentin D63 (@guest_816750)
20 days ago
Reply to  Jonboy

Yes, its all nice, but sounds a bit too self-congratulatory speak. They need to get more assets onto the field. A bit less talk, more action please. In addition to above, get the UK GBAD/Sky shield happening, increase the fleet a tad even with a few more T31s, speed up the T26s, get the T45/T23s upgrades done and increase the defensive armaments on the Carriers and RFAs. And we haven’t even started on the army and airforce and what they need yet! Carry on 🇬🇧!

Last edited 20 days ago by Quentin D63
Math
Math (@guest_816758)
20 days ago
Reply to  Quentin D63

Increasing the level of readiness of the fleet, with more seamanship of the crew, improving vessel level of armement and reserve, having good sonar and torpedoes and then considering new ship could be the way to go for my country. They have 2 teams for each ship. So crew availability is no longer an issue. But armement and reserve is a bit more sketchy. I hope we will get new vessel soon, but this will take a few more years. Coordinating patrols with the Royal Navy is the other best thing EU fleets can do. You have 2 carriers, plenty… Read more »

Phil Chadwick
Phil Chadwick (@guest_816791)
20 days ago
Reply to  Jonboy

Agreed. AUKUS will take care of that I think, and yes, we certainly need more Royal Marines!

Dern
Dern (@guest_816809)
20 days ago
Reply to  Phil Chadwick

All well and good, but you need to be able to project power ashore from those ships, and for that you need… the Army.

Andy reeves
Andy reeves (@guest_817611)
17 days ago
Reply to  Phil Chadwick

the house of commons needs to be reminded that some 80 percent of the UK is done by sea and that the pathetic fleet, less than a third of the size that was deployed in 1982 is nowhere near good enough😅 and full examination of the make up and size of our forces should be done, and done fast.a final decision on whether we prioritised numbers or technology. more tech equals bigger cost and time overuns

FieldLander
FieldLander (@guest_816743)
20 days ago

What substantial increase?
Currently 2.32% (I think), rising to 2.5% over 6 years.
That is 0.03% per year. Approximates to an extra £1.6M per year per year.
That is not very much and is only ‘substantial’ if compared to the average wage.
It would not pay for a decent footballer, I am told.

Jim
Jim (@guest_816762)
20 days ago
Reply to  FieldLander

Almost 0.3% of GDP is in military aid to Ukraine. Assuming that won’t last forever it will mean that the government will eventually be forced to spend it on defence resulting in a large increase.

It’s highly likely that the UK announcement foreshadowing a new NATO wide commitment to 2.5% and any UK government either labour or Tory will hold to a NATO pledge.

FieldLander
FieldLander (@guest_816766)
20 days ago
Reply to  Jim

An addition 0.3%, currently spent on UKR, is not really very much. Indeed clouding the picture with UKR spending is really just a smoke screen.. All we need are the mirrors and the illusion will be complete.
Think how much was being spent even 5 years after the Berlin Wall came down.

Graham Moore
Graham Moore (@guest_816836)
19 days ago
Reply to  FieldLander

Someone’s maths must be shaky. Shapps said that the proposed increase is £75Bn over 6 years. So how is that just another £1.6M per year?

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke (@guest_816744)
20 days ago

It is very interesting that he is talking about war reserves of Typhoon and Ships. Upgrading T1 Typhoon to T3/4 standard is perfectly possible. Question is would BAE do it as a fixed price contract at a sensible price. If it is an open ended contract [Cost+} then it will go out of control. That said it is a very fundamental rebuild with everything from the loom coming out. But it may be the only way of upgrading those frame – those that haven’t been stripped & scrapped that is. Keeping older warships is harder. But I suspect he is… Read more »

ChariotRider
ChariotRider (@guest_816748)
20 days ago

Hi SB, Interesting that you raise the RNR, it rarely gets a mention on here or anywhere else for that matter. I have often wondered if there isn’t something that could be done to make better use of the reserve force, not forgetting that there are quite a few of them already working part time with the regulars shore side. I think the idea of some T31B2’s is on the face of it a good one, however, you would probably need to have a core RN crew especially when you consider the capabilities of the T31. Perhaps a small squadron… Read more »

Jtg510
Jtg510 (@guest_816761)
20 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Apologies in advance for a TLDR reply, but I always find the question of the RNR manning ships themselves interesting. You’re quite right, the RNR rarely gets a mention, which is a shame. The approach you’ve outlined is, in part, what the RNR already do with the OPVs. This is, however, only a part of what the RNR does for the Naval Service, and is limited to ratings in the RNR’s general warfare branch. The vast majority of RNR officers work providing specialist skills to submarine, mine countermeasures, amphibious warfare taskings, or in the information warfare space (I.e. not onboard… Read more »

Dern
Dern (@guest_816810)
20 days ago
Reply to  Jtg510

Just going to do my usual thing and point out that the Army Reserve has not deployed as a formed in decades.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider (@guest_816843)
19 days ago
Reply to  Jtg510

Hi Jtg510 Definitely not a TLDR, mate. Some of what you pointed out I was vaguely aware of but you have certainly added welcome detail, thanks. As a former defence analyst my starting point is always to think about the threat and work from there and frankly NATO, even, with the USN, just doesn’t have the mass (and I include munitions stocks here) to defend the North Atlantic for any extended period. NATO would be able to knock over pretty much any potential threat navy in a toe to toe fight, particularly with regards to surface fleets, provided they can… Read more »

Jtg510
Jtg510 (@guest_816866)
19 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

No worries. Totally agree with the need to be able to add mass (and a lot of it) at will, especially on land from what we’ve seen in Ukraine. This probably does look different for sea, air, and land, but each branch have their own challenges. From an RN point of view, the issue with adding “conventional” mass is that training volunteer reservists to a standard where they can operate a decent sized warship would be a hard ask. A lot of this is about not having the time on ship to develop nav/OOW/engineering skills when you also have a… Read more »

Joe16
Joe16 (@guest_816751)
20 days ago

I would agree that RN vessels are a very difficult thing to keep “in reserve”- the amount of upkeep and maintenance required on ships is prohibitively expensive for that- unless we can keep them out of the water and under cover…! While I think that Francois is a valuable supporter of the armed forces, I do think that sometimes he could come up with slightly better proposals. Typhoons absolutely a possibility, but the other obvious ones would be AFVs- as again items that can far more easily be left in storage with minimal cost. As far as Typhoon T1 goes,… Read more »

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke (@guest_816755)
20 days ago
Reply to  Joe16

T1’s have little commonality in controls and instrumentation z

T2 is like a new aircraft.

Jim
Jim (@guest_816764)
20 days ago

I believe Spain has solved most of those issues with its T1 upgrade program.

Jim
Jim (@guest_816763)
20 days ago

Has the DS talked about keeping Typhoons, I have not seen anything.

BAE stated T1 upgrade can be done in evidence given to defence select committee but that MOD has never asked for a price.

Airbus is doing it for Spain, if BAE was to take the piss then it’s not too hard to get Airbus to do it however they are not doing full rebuild to tranche T3 standard.

Honestly I would be happy to keep T1 in service as is and just accept we need to keep AMRAAM stocks.

Steve R
Steve R (@guest_816769)
20 days ago
Reply to  Jim

Would be fine for purely UK air defence role, freeing up the other Typhoons for other roles and retaining the fleet at around 137 rather than 107.

Steve R
Steve R (@guest_816768)
20 days ago

Makes me wonder: do we even really need to upgrade the T1 Typhoons?

Couldn’t we just assign them to purely UK air defence duties, freeing up the T2s and T3s for multirole operations?

Just the act of not scrapping them would add another 30 still-very capable aircraft to our inventory.

Jack
Jack (@guest_816753)
20 days ago

A promise of jam tomorrow isn’t deserving of praise.

Paul.P
Paul.P (@guest_816754)
20 days ago

Standard stuff; back bencher congratulates minister of his own party. That said its encouraging to see a stream of sensible decisions as regards spending the money we do have: extension of T31 and T26 constructor base, Boxer SPG, x2 MLRS, NSM, Mk41 for T31, T45 Ceptor and Aster upgrade, decoy and s/w upgrades, trimming of NMH types and numbers – all good. Some capability gambles paying off, A400 certified for low level parachute work. Obviously watching the pennies. Long list of issues still outstanding though…reserves, recruitment, pay and conditions, pilot training, Typhoons, RFA, frigate numbers, GBAD?

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach (@guest_816771)
20 days ago

I do enjoy discussion BUT…. For months almost everybody has been complaning about the defence budget. Now we have a £75 billion increase and almost everybody is complaining about the size of the increase. Who would be DEF/SEC?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli (@guest_816893)
19 days ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

We don’t though do we? It’s null and void if they lose. Unless Labour also commit to it in detail.
It’s politics, Geoffrey. They could have initiated this last year or before.
The only increase this year I believe is money in the defence budget for Ukraine. Which is already wrong as that should be from the aid budget.

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach (@guest_817065)
19 days ago

I was really just making the point about DEF/Sec’s. Nobodt what they say or do it’s wrong. When was the last time we got told that something was going to happen and then did? It’s so long ago I can’t remember. Another ten years of this and none of us will have anything to talk about. 🙄

Andy reeves
Andy reeves (@guest_817600)
17 days ago

this politician actually asks intelligent questions and consistently gives a s**t.