Ben Wallace and his US counterpart, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin

Calls by ministers for billions more pounds to be poured into the military amid the cost-of-living crisis expose the Tories’ spending priorities, campaigners said today. Defence Secretary Ben Wallace insisted that military spending must “continue to grow” in response to the “pressing threat” from Russia.

Mr Wallace’s comments at a Royal United Services Institute land warfare conference followed reports that he has written to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson asking for military spending to be increased to 2.5 per cent of Britain’s gross domestic product (GDP).

With the government already on course to spend a total of £48 billion on “defence” over the next year, such a rise would add billions of pounds to its military spending.

Mr Wallace reportedly wrote that an uplift is needed to meet a shortfall in Britain’s military capabilities that has been exposed by the war in Ukraine.

Tory MP Tobias Ellwood, who chairs the Commons defence committee, has pushed for spending to be increased even further — to 3 per cent of GDP.

However, peace campaigners warned today that ramping up spending on the armed forces would not keep the public safe.

Symon Hill of the Peace Pledge Union said: “If you’re queueing at a foodbank, anxious about heating bills or unable to buy toys for your children, then your life will not be made safer or better by an increased budget for long-range rocket artillery.

“We need to spend public money on tackling the real global threats of poverty, pandemics and climate change.”

Stop the War Coalition convener Lindsay German said: “We can see Tory spending priorities here.

“While rail workers, nurses, teachers and post workers are all expected to take pay cuts and worsening conditions, there will be more money for the military.

“The priority must be that no-one suffers from this cost-of-living crisis, which is a war on the poor.”

28 Jun 2022 by Bethany Rielly

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