Brexit Britain will be bringing ‘world-class armed forces’ to negotiating table from Jan 1

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Defence Secretary Ben Wallace secured an above inflation rise for the Ministry of Defence’s budget yesterday despite speculation the department was about to be gutted in next week’s Spending Review.

The green light from Chancellor Rishi Sunak means costly equipment programmes can go ahead as well as no cuts to the military.

Former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt welcomed the news and said post-Brexit Britain will bring its “world-class armed forces” to the negotiating table as the UK continues to secure trade deals outside of the EU.

He tweeted: “Diplomacy is often cold-hearted and transactional so post-Brexit we will need to have something to bring to the table.

“What better than our world-class armed forces? Great news!”

It is believed Prime Minister Boris Johnson will announce the multi-year funding settlement on Thursday after slashing several billions from the foreign aid budget.

Malcolm Chalmers, from the Royal United Services Institute think tank, said: “So much of what the MoD does, particularly on procurement, relies on being able to write multi-year contracts with suppliers.

“You can’t plan properly if you don’t have certainty of funding.”

The settlement is expected to last four years but the exact inflation figure is believed to be subject to last-minute negotiations.

The MoD’s budge for 2020-21 is £41.5bn but in their election manifesto, the Conservative party pledged to lift spending by 0.5 percent each year during parliament.

This promise came before the COVID-19 pandemic.

But Tom Newton Dunn, chief political commentator on Times Radio, said the inflation news means the Tories are exceeding their 2019 manifesto commitment to increase defence spending.

According to the National Audit office, the MoD has a shortfall of £13bn in its equipment budget.

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The department is looking to advance a host of drone-related projects following the success of other countries such as Turkey.

It also wants to upgrade Britain’s Trident nuclear warheads for the 2030s

While the MoD is set to receive a funding boost, foreign aid may be cut by £4bn as ministers look for savings amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Britain is legally committed to spending 0.7 percent of national income on overseas support but the Government is not ruling out a temporary reduction.

Cutting the budget to 0.5 percent would save more than £4billion in the next financial year.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “It is legitimate to consider where savings can be made when public finances are under huge strain.”

Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell, a former international development secretary, said cutting aid spending would be “an extraordinary decision” that would “diminish” the UK on the world stage.

He said: “Covid has to be beaten everywhere and Britain’s development budget is playing a key role in vulnerable parts of the world where no effective health system exists.”

Last month, foreign secretary Dominic Raab insisted the foreign aid should be “anchored” to the UK national interest.

He said: “It’s right to say that when you invest in large sums of money in order to pursue a sustainable partnership, there needs to be something anchored to the UK national interest.

“So, we’ll look at all of the areas, whether it’s trade, whether it’s the military assets that were deployed, and see how we can effectively synergise all of those strains with the aid money going in.

“They’re not siloed, they shouldn’t be, whether it’s pursuing our moral interest or our national interest.

“We think that’s the right thing to do.”

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