Britain announced its biggest military spending increase since the Cold War on Thursday, pledging to end the "era of retreat" as it seeks a post-Brexit role in a world Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned was more perilous than for decades.
Johnson said the increased spending reflected the need to upgrade military capabilities, including pioneering new technology with plans for a new space command and artificial intelligence agency.
After formally leaving the European Union in January, it will end the 11-month Brexit transition period at the end of the year and begin a new era in worldwide trade and relations.
"Based on our assessment of the global situation and our foreign policy goals, I have decided that the era of cutting our defense budget must end, and it ends now", he said. It represents roughly a 10 percent increase, the country's largest military investment since the end of the Cold War. And while the United Kingdom was deeply involved in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, its armed forces have faced further budget cuts in the past decade as successive Conservative governments clamped down on spending to get the public finances into shape after the global financial crisis.
"The returns will go far beyond our Armed Forces" as the new investment will also create 10,000 jobs every year and 40,000 in total, Johnson added.
"This will spur a renaissance of British shipbuilding across the UK".
Political leaders from across the political spectrum gave a guarded welcome to the prime minister's announcement.
"We're going to use our extra defence spending to restore Britain's position as the foremost naval power in Europe", Johnson told the Commons.
"It bears absolutely no relation to discussions about overseas aid", he said.
Pointing to World Bank forecasts that over 100 million more people will be pushed into poverty by the Covid pandemic, the former International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell said: "Any minister will tell you that no budget can withstand a 30 per cut without major impacts".
"The 16.5 billion pounds extra in the Ministry of Defence's budget over the next four years is the amount over and above the manifesto commitment". "This country is, has been, and will remain one of the biggest contributors to aid on earth".
"I have taken this decision in the teeth of the pandemic because the defence of the realm must come first", Johnson said in a statement.
Boris Johnson outlined why now is the ideal time to invest heavily in the Armed Forces.