Ben Wallace grilled by Tobias Ellwood on new defence budget
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The public approves of the Government’s plans to provide £11billion for the Ministry of Defence over the next five years, in what is a major boost for Ben Wallace. A new poll, conducted by Techne UK for the Daily Express, saw a majority of people say the Government has invested enough in defence at the last budget. On Wednesday, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced a further £5 billion for the Ministry of Defence across the next two years, with £11billion being allocated over the course of five years.
The investment will take Britain up to spending almost 2.25 percent of GDP on defence.
The survey asked UK adults: “Do you think the Government has invested enough in Defence?”
Some 55 percent of people said yes, while just 27 percent said no. Another 18 percent said they do not know.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace had campaigned for an increase of £8 to 11 billion over two years but instead got £5billion for two years and £11billion total for five years.
Mr Hunt also announced £33million in additional funding for veteran support.
The Chancellor said he is “proud we’re giving Ukraine more military support than anyone else in Europe.”
He added: “On Monday we were able to go even further, with Ben Wallace announcing a £5bn package of funding for the MoD; an additional £2bn next year and £3bn the year after.
“Today following representations from Wallace I confirm we will add a total of £11bn to our defence budget over the next five years.
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“It will be nearly 2.25 percent of GDP by 2025.
“We were the first large European funding to commit to 2 percent of GDP. We will now raise that to 2.5 percent as soon as fiscal circumstances allow.”
But Defence Select Committee Chair Tobias Ellwood dismissed the funding as “smoke and mirrors”.
He told the Daily Express: “All smoke and mirrors I’m afraid. I welcome the investment in the nuclear deterrent and the replenishment of weapons stocks but when you take that money out it leaves the MoD with about £1 billion a year which is in effect a real terms cut.
“There will be even less when you account for taxes and expenses.
“It means our conventional forces remain hollowed out as the threats come over the hill.”
Tory MP Colonel James Sunderland said: “It’s a step in the right direction but still may not be enough to future proof our HM Forces, particularly the Army, against the totality of threats we continue to face in an increasingly unstable world.
“I welcome the commitment to 2.5 percent of GDP – the imperative now is to translate this quickly into operational capability.”
The Techne poll spoke to 1,614 UK adults on March 15 and March 16.
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