Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Thursday the largest military investment made since the end of the Cold War in the United Kingdom, which, in view of the transformation of threats, will include a space command, an artificial intelligence agency and a cybernetic force.
The program, consisting of 16,500 million pounds (22,000 million dollars, 18,500 million euros) for the next four years, was presented by Johnson to Parliament by video conference from Downing Street, given that he is in his forties after having been in contact with an MP diagnosed with a coronavirus.
“I have decided that the era of defence cuts must end and it ends now,” he said, calling for an end to the “retreat” to strengthen British influence in the world.
“I have made this decision in the midst of the pandemic (…) because the defense of the kingdom (…) must be the priority,” he added.
Added to his electoral promise to increase the British military budget by 0.5% above inflation each year, this unprecedented additional investment means 24.1 billion pounds more for the armed forces.
This increase will bring the British army budget to 190 billion pounds in the next four years, strengthening the position of the United Kingdom as the European country that spends the most on defense (2.2% of its Gross Domestic Product) and second in NATO, behind the United States.
In the face of new threats such as cyber-attacks, the United Kingdom proposes “to be a pioneer in new technologies”, assured Johnson, announcing the creation of a new agency dedicated to Artificial Intelligence, a National Cybernetic Force and a new “Space Command”, capable of launching its first rocket by 2022.
However, in the midst of a pandemic that has hit the country with 53,000 deaths and the worst recession in its recent history, opposition leader Labour’s Keir Starmer wondered “how this announcement will be paid for.
“Will there be additional debt or tax increases and, if so, which ones or will the money have to come from other ministries,” he launched, without getting a precise answer.