UK Foreign Secretary to Call for More Defence Spending Amid Cost of Living Crisis
06:23 GMT 27.04.2022 (Updated: 15:19 GMT 28.05.2023)
In late February, Liz Truss admitted that the sanctions London had slapped on Russia in retaliation for its special military operation in Ukraine would worsen the UK cost of living crisis, warning that Britain must be prepared to take an “economic hit”.
Later on Wednesday, UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss
is expected to call for increasing defence spending, while also pledging to continue Britain’s military support for Ukraine amid Russia’s ongoing special operation in the country.
In a speech the extracts of which were seen by UK media, Truss is expected to say that NATO’s traditional target of spending two percent of gross domestic product (GDP) on defence should be a minimum.
According to the news outlets, the top UK diplomat will argue that NATO members view defence spending
at 2 percent of GDP as a “floor, not a ceiling” as she will slam the “generation of underinvestment”, which had “failed” to contain what she will reportedly described as “Russian aggression”.
Last year, Britain was one of just eight NATO members to meet the alliance’s goal of spending at least 2 percent of GDP on defence. According to NATO figures, the UK spent about 2.3 percent of its GDP on defence in 2021.
“We need a new approach. One that melds hard security and economic security. One that builds stronger global alliances and where free nations are more assertive and self-confident. One that recognises we’re seeing the return of geopolitics,” Truss is due to stress.
The British foreign secretary is also expected to say that the West “cannot be complacent” because “the fate of Ukraine remains in the balance”.
“And let’s be clear – if [Russian President Vladimir] Putin succeeds there will be untold further misery across Europe and terrible consequences across the globe. We would never feel safe again. So we must be prepared for the long haul and double down on our support for Ukraine,” Truss is set to say.
According to her, this support should include “heavy weapons, tanks, aeroplanes” and further sanctions so there is "nowhere for Putin to go to fund this appalling war”.
Sunak Urged to Reduce Tax Burden
Truss’ forthcoming speech is expected after Prime Minister Boris Johnson met cabinet ministersto discuss the ongoing living crisis in the UK.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak came under pressure from Policing Minister Kit Malthouse to cut taxes, which he said would be the best way to help tackle the crisis.
“We are a party and a government of low taxation. The quickest way of actually regenerating the economy and getting retail activity and job creation back on course is by reducing the tax burden, not increasing it,” Malthouse said on Tuesday.
Sunak, however, reportedly insisted that further moves on tax would have to wait until this fall’s budget as official figures indicated record-high tax receipts for the Treasury.
He spoke a few days after an opinion poll conducted for the Daily Mirror revealed that over half of Britons would not be able to afford to pay their bills within a matter of months, and that more than five million of them are already forced to pick between heating and eating.
The newspaper reported that the survey “has exposed the everyday impact of the cost of living crisis, from families ditching non-essentials and cancelling holidays, to missing rent payments and parents skipping meals so their children can eat”.
The Mirror also cited Labour leader Keir Starmer as saying that “working people are being hammered, and the worst is about to hit”. He added that the newspaper’s “poll shows just how bad things are already”.
“People are working hard but getting less, and the Conservatives have put up taxes at the worst possible time. The Government’s refusal to act is shameful. We need an emergency budget now to put money back in people’s pockets,” Starmer pointed out.
The survey was released amid increasing rate of inflation in Britain, which was driven by record prices for gasoline and diesel, as well as costs of food, clothing, and furniture.
Earlier, UK ministers warned that Western sanctions on Russia would have a knock-on effect on the cost of living. Shortly after Moscow announced on 24 February its special operation
to "demilitarise and de-Nazify"" Ukraine, Liz Truss acknowledged that Britain would take an “economic hit” because of the anti-Russian sanctions imposed by the US and its allies, but said it would be “far worse” to not respond to the Ukraine crisis.