UK defense spending to hit 2.5 of GDP by 2030, vows Boris Johnson

EuroActiv Politico News

MADRID — The U.K. will up its defense spending to 2.5 percent of GDP by the end of the current decade, Boris Johnson announced at the NATO summit.

The British prime minister — who has been under intense domestic pressure to commit to further defense spending in recent days — said the hike was needed “to invest for the long-term in vital capabilities like future combat air whilst simultaneously adapting to a more dangerous and more competitive world.”

“The logical conclusion of the investments on which we propose to embark, these decisions, is that we’ll reach 2.5 percent of GDP on defense by the end of the decade,” Johnson told a press conference on the closing day of the summit.

The promise comes after days of speculation about a potential budget boost, triggered by an intense public lobbying campaign led by Johnson’s own Defense Secretary Ben Wallace.

The U.K., which currently spends around 2 percent of GDP on defense, won’t be alone in the effort, as several other NATO allies have offered to increase investment to 2.5 percent, with a few pledging to reach 3 percent during Wednesday’s sessions, according to a Spanish senior official.

Johnson’s pledge follows a U.K. announcement of an extra £1 billion to enhance Ukraine’s resistance against Russia, which Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said had been achieved by reallocating funds earmarked for climate change and overseas development projects.

“My Department has contributed to the effort by surrendering climate finance and foreign aid underspends,” he tweeted.