The Conservative Party has pledged to reach 3% of defense spending by 2030, but the new Prime Minister has so far not publicly stated whether he will meet the manifesto commitment. As Jeremy Hunt prepares to unveil his new budget on Thursday, Andrew Neil challenged Mr Chalk to confirm whether spending will rise in line with the pledge or whether the Chancellor will cut funds. Speaking on his weekly The Andrew Neil Show, the broadcaster said: “I accept that Mr Sunak never signed the 3 per cent target, but he talked about sticking to the 2019 Tory manifesto.
“And that manifesto promised an inflation defense increase plus 0.5% every year, so there would be a real increase.
“That’s not happening anymore either – real defense spending is down. Another broken manifesto commitment.”
Mr Chalk however replied: “No, I don’t accept that. I don’t accept that, because we didn’t hear from Jeremy Hunt on Thursday. [yet].”
But Mr. Neil persisted: “Well, do you think he’s going to increase defense spending?”
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The Defense Procurement Minister said: “What I’m saying is I think he’s extremely aware of the pressures we face.
“I know he’s met with high-ranking military figures. We face challenges – of course we’ve given £2.3 billion to Ukraine, and we’re the second-largest supplier of weapons.
“And I think they will understand – the Chancellor understands well and the Prime Minister understands well – the pressures we face and the leadership role we have taken on.”
According to the latest forecast, the MoD budget is set to rise from £47.9bn to £48bn in 2023 and then to £48.6bn in 2024.
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Lord Dannatt said: “The Government must cut public spending to balance the books as they are reluctant to raise taxes, but it seems incredible that with a land war in Europe they feel they can cut the budget of defense.
“Given that we’ve had 2.5% and 3% waivers under the noses of defense planners, now to reduce it to 2% or less, it makes you wonder how the hell you can plan anything from sensible for the future.”
The cut could further affect the size of the British army, which was already reduced to its smallest size in history.
The number of fully trained soldiers would be reduced to 72,500.