Britain risks NATO pledge if defense budget cut, panel says
From Kitty Donaldson, Bloomberg: Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne risks breaching a NATO agreement to keep U.K. defense spending at 2 percent of gross domestic product if he cuts the Ministry of Defence budget, a panel of lawmakers said.
Parliament’s cross-party Defense Committee said the current military spending level of 2.6 percent of GDP would be at risk if Osborne insists on greater cuts to the military as part of a further 10 billion pounds ($15 billion) of savings across the government.
“We believe that it is vital that defense spending remains at more than 2 percent of GDP in line with the U.K.’s NATO commitment,” the panel said in its report published in London today. “We recommend that the MoD and the Treasury ensure that defense spending does not fall below 2 percent of GDP in the next spending review.”
Defense Secretary Philip Hammond is in the midst of a fight to protect his department’s budget after 2015, saying the number of military personnel will have to be cut if Osborne forces spending reductions. Today’s report demonstrated that the U.K.’s long-standing international commitments may also be at risk.
Prime Minister David Cameron has pledged to protect the defense-equipment budget, which will go up by 1 percent in real terms from 2015. He has not given any such promise for the rest of military expenditure. The equipment budget accounts for about 45 percent of defense spending. (photo: militaryandweapons)