Defence Secretary insists Government won’t ‘abandon foreign aid’ to pay for £24bn military war chest
The Government will not be “abandoning the battlefield of international aid” to pay for a £24bn military war chest, the Defence Secretary has said.
After the biggest financial boost to Britain’s armed forces since the Cold War, Ben Wallace says that where the money comes from is a matter for the Chancellor, but said that he remained committed to foreign aid.
The Prime Minister pledged to restore the Royal Navy to its position as Europe’s most powerful maritime force and will invest heavily in drones, cyber warfare and space programmes.
Boris Johnson said he had made the decision "in the teeth of the pandemic because the defence of the realm must come first".
But there has been speculation that the deal will be financed by cutting hte Foreign Aid budget from 0.7pc of GDP to 0.5pc.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace says Britain remains committed to foreign aid
Credit: Peter Byrne/PA
This morning, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace declined to say how much of the new defence funding would come from the overseas aid budget.
Repeatedly pressed during an interview on Sky News whether he would support such a move, the Defence Secretary said: "Part of Britain’s overseas assistance is defence and security.
"When I go abroad what many countries want from us is our knowledge, our equipment and our understanding of how to provide security and how to provide defence."
Mr Wallace insisted the Government was not "abandoning the battlefield of international aid", but said the "decisions on the numbers" will be revealed by the Chancellor next week.
He added: "Do I support more money for defence? Yes I do, that’s why I put in for a bid. Did I get it? Where it comes from is a matter for the Chancellor."
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has said the four-year financial deal with an additional £16.5 billion for the Ministry of Defence is "enough" money and will allow the Armed Forces to be modernised.
"It is enough, depending on how your ambition is tailored,” he said.
“I’ve been very clear as Defence Secretary that one of the failures of the past reviews was our funding never matched our ambition – that goes for most of the reviews in the last 40 years.
"This means that we can have a proper discussion about what are our global ambitions and how are we going to fund it.
"This very large settlement for defence will allow us to fix the problems that we’ve inherited – the black hole that the NAO obviously identified – and allow headspace to modernise our forces."
He added that the Armed Forces have out-of-date equipment.
Mr Wallace told BBC Breakfast: "When I looked across at the Armed Forces today I saw them with equipment that was out-of-date, I saw our adversaries across the world having better equipment, the ability to attack us and harm us getting wider and wider from our capabilities.
"And when that happens, time runs out, and you need to modernise your forces. You need to sometimes let go of some older capabilities and that takes money in order to first of all create the headroom to invest."