Defense cuts risk Britain’s NATO standing

Hammond admitted that U.S. is concerned about British military “leadership” in Europe

From James Kirkup and Peter Foster, Telegraph:  New defence cuts mean Britain could fall below the Nato standard for defence spending, straining the UK’s military co-operation with the US, it has emerged.

Whitehall sources have suggested that new cuts in the defence budget could take British defence spending below 2 per cent of Gross Domestic Product, regarded by the US as the minimum standard for a serious military power.

Philip Hammond refused to rule out Britain spending less than 2pc of GDP on defence in the next Parliament following this year’s spending review.

Britain is one of only two European Nato members that meets the 2 per cent target, but British sources believe that it could soon fall below that mark.

Speaking on a visit to Washington, Mr Hammond admitted that Britain’s closest ally is concerned about British military “leadership” in Europe in the light of the current spending talks in Whitehall. . . .

The Treasury is drawing up plans for a fresh round of cuts in Whitehall departments’ budgets in 2015/16, the first year of the next Parliament. . . .

The budget for defence equipment will rise slightly in 2015/16, but the rest of Mr Hammond’s budget – which pays Armed Forces salaries and other operating costs – faces cuts of more than 5 per cent. . . . .

He [Hammond] said: “We are meeting our 2 per cent target and will continue to meet if for the remainder of this Parliament. I can’t give guarantees about the cost cuts and the spending review until after we’ve completed it. . . .”

He added: "We understand in London how important and iconic the 2 per cent is to the Americans and I’ve no doubt that later on today I will be hearing from Secretary Hagel how significant a benchmark they regard it.  (photo:  Andrew Crowley/Telegraph)

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