The increase in spending money on the military in the UK will make the world more dangerous

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The increase in spending money on the military in the UK will make the world more dangerous

Boris Johnson announces billions for the defence industry, almost nothing for climate action, and nothing for child poverty, writes Andrew Smith.


Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a press conference on 16 March 2020, with Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Witty and Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance. Picture by Andrew Parsons

‘I have decided that the time when we cut our defence budget must end, and it ends now.’

These were the words of the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, when he announced the biggest increase to the UK’s military budget since the Cold War. He wants to buy lasers, a ‘hackers HQ’, and all sorts of weapons.

It is difficult to believe that a few days ago Boris Johnson said that his government could not afford to give meals to hungry school students during the October holiday. This decision tells us a lot about what he thinks is important at home and about how he wants ‘Global Britain’ to be internationally.

The UK is in the last days of Brexit talks and we are starting to see changes in its foreign policy. Earlier this week the government refused to say it would not cut overseas aid. People in Downing Street said that it could reduce from 0.7 per cent of spending to 0.5 per cent. This is a cut of about one third.

But the increase in military spending, of £16 ($21) billion over four years, would add more to one of the highest military budgets in the world. We have an idea that our military is weak. But data from the International Institute for Strategic Studies shows that, with a £55 ($72) billion budget before the increase, the UK already has the sixth-highest military budget in the world.

The problem is not only how much we are spending but also what we use it for. For far too long, UK policy has been on military solutions, foreign wars, and dangerous partnerships with governments abusing human rights. These policies have had a terrible effect around the world and they do nothing to keep us safe from many dangers, including pandemics, inequality, and climate change.

With Covid-19, it is clear that the government has a big job to do to help the economy. The government says the military spending is a necessary part of helping the economy and that it will make thousands of jobs safe. But if we forget the politics and see military spending as making new jobs, it doesn’t work. There are more and better jobs from renewable energy.

Research from Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) shows that investment in offshore wind and marine energy could produce more jobs than all of the arms industry. And it would help to build a safer, not a more dangerous, world.

But the government is not doing enough for climate change. This week Johnson also announced his ‘green industrial revolution.’ Most of this was not enough to help the problem of the climate emergency. The extra $4 billion is less than a quarter of the new spending on the military.

Covid-19 shows us many things: how we depend on our neighbours around the world; that the least well-paid with the least working rights are many of the people that look after us; and that Covid-19 affects people of colour most. That is why the government must keep its foreign aid and invest in the services and workers that we all need.

After Covid-19, healthcare, a living wage, the environment, and other important services are necessary. More bombs, missiles, and fighter jets do not help any of these. Security does not come from spending money on the military. It comes from building more equal societies and better services.


(This article is in easier English so it is possible that we changed the words, the text structure, and the quotes.)