Is the defence budget safe from more cuts?


The prime minister does "not resile" from his commitment to increase defence spending after the next election, reporters on his trip to Africa were told yesterday.

In October 2010 David Cameron signalled that after five years of cuts, defence spending would start rising again from 2015 onwards.

How is that possible given that the Treasury has extended the age of austerity and is now negotiating with government departments for further cuts for the year 2015-6 ?

No deals have been done yet. No final decisions taken. But I am told that the Treasury knows that it cannot make the prime minister eat his words. However, what they can do is some creative accounting.

There will be cash released by the drawdown of British troops from Afghanistan. There is a fund separate from the defence budget called "the reserve" which could be raided. There are, no doubt, other wheezes.

A way will be found to keep the PM's promise but the Treasury will want to do it without raiding other governing budgets if possible.

All this is being haggled over now ahead of future announcements by the chancellor. Before then stand by for numerous campaigns on behalf of this or that lobby group.

The armed forces know how to play the Whitehall game.

Inside No 10 they joke that the annual scare story about scrapping the Red Arrows or the Trooping of the Colour will surely follow soon.

Nick Robinson, Political editor Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 215.

    I say bring back national service that way the savings on the dole money and savings made because less young immigrants will wish to come to the Uk can be used by the services

  • rate this

    Comment number 214.

    I say cut the defence budget to the bone, or further.

  • rate this

    Comment number 213.

    Question. How many people from Iraq, Afghanistan are invading the UK?
    Answer. NONE!
    So WHY are we over in their countries slaughtering them?
    Germany, Japan, Italy did just the same thing and the rest of the world was shocked!
    OH! I see! It's ALL to do with the politics and so called leaders and they NEVER end up doing the fighting! Just running their mouths!

  • rate this

    Comment number 212.

    Its such a shame that a P.M. Of our country should feel the need to have to re-state a pledge!
    The announcement is very welcome but it has only happened due to the "cords of the shower bath" being pulled on the Conservatives by UKIP. Those who have left the Conservatives for UKIP have done so for more than the single issue of Europe a very important part of UKIP appeal is their stance on defence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 211.

    But did he include the magic phrase “In real terms” Nick?
    Theoretically we could see inflation at – say – 3% & the Exchequer increasing defence spending at 1% per year.
    Well maybe, but, with all the cuts in Defence until 2015, there will be scope for a small rise afterwards & Davy can still say he’s a Man of his word.

  • rate this

    Comment number 210.

    I think we should spend more on defence and cut the overseas aid budget! Why should we be subidising wind farms in africa, greener cattle farms in columbia, schemes promoting tourism in icelandic national parks, hotel building in barbados and thats just the tip of the iceburg! 9 billion pounds of taxpayers money per year and rising!

  • rate this

    Comment number 209.

    Defence to be protected - less institutions of mass education and more instruments of mass destruction.

  • rate this

    Comment number 208.

    Oh dear!

    I've just been listening to Dave in Libya talking about that country and Mali.

    The 'Heir to Blair' is now starting to sound just like Gordon Brown.

    Muddled ideas as to what is going on, why our troops should be involved and what is necessary for Britain. This is starting to sound like it could all go horribly wrong.

  • rate this

    Comment number 207.

    Words, OED
    Use, context

    'My point', not 'extra words'
    Note asymmetry & consequences, confidence shot for all

    Equal partnership:
    Most, in friendship, marriage, dependence, no other way
    Many have thought might, could, should
    Some, in adversity or naivety, try & fail
    Few, more info than Cassand, know MUST

    We might escape Earth, unable to visit to scrump
    Conflict to rise & fall again
    Or else

  • rate this

    Comment number 206.

    @153 J_f_H

    So which company was this then? He was involved with several but 'worked' for one.

  • rate this

    Comment number 205.

    202. Justin150

    Your post is good one,its a fair question.I would just like to say that after 1914/1918 the general view was, that was the war to end all wars.

  • rate this

    Comment number 204.

    Cut to the chase Nick, how much dosh has he pledged to Algeria and Libya, and please please tell us the 'tour' is over.

  • rate this

    Comment number 203.

    This idiot in charge dangerous!

  • rate this

    Comment number 202.

    The last 20 years have been the first period in over 2000 years when not only is the UK mainland under no threat of miltary conflict but there is no conceivable threat on the horizon.

    The starting point of any debate should be do we need any armed forces at all and if we do, what is the purpose of the armed forces

  • rate this

    Comment number 201.

    76. John_from_Hendon

    "2. GB's complacency has always been a contributory factor (see E.Childers's book Riddle of the Sands etc..)"

    Ripping yarn of a spy novel by an Anglo Irish, to criticize the UK. Ridiculous.

    "3. We need more EU democracy - directly elected EU President."

    Ha, so you admit the blighter can not be directly elected as it stands.

  • rate this

    Comment number 200.

    186.All for All
    Meanings many

    No wonder 95% of the general populace do not understand eg difference between 'prudence' & 'austerity' when our Oxbridge set of politicians & media managers do not also understand the 'difference'

    Your point is one of introducing extra words to try & make sense of what the politicians are trying to say when eg govt spending is still rising

  • rate this

    Comment number 199.

    191. John_from_Hendon

    "You seem to be suffering from an overheated mind as I have no idea what you are talking about?"

    Deliberately obtuse.

    "He is Portuguese and we are both European and I am left to suppose in your rather strangely connected mind that makes him British too".

    Portuguese, x communist demi god, wishing Nation State subservient to Fed eu,only may be slightly less than you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 198.

    After Suez the UK decided to stick close to the USA - the French decided that the opposite was a better idea
    To stick close means supporting the USA diplomatically and militarily
    The UK can't afford to field significant stand alone forces any longer so we are normally a junior partner to the USA - so we have to have interoperability with their kit.

    So we have to buy what they buy (or sell)

  • rate this

    Comment number 197.

    Further to my other comments I would just like to add that someone I know who was not from the UK once said 'I could poison the lot of you if I wanted to anyway'. How do we know that our veg is not being grown next to one of our cleaning products processing plants in Poland?

  • rate this

    Comment number 196.

    188. AFN.
    Given the vast area of Africa & the ability of people to move across many open borders, I’m wondering where we will be able to get the troop numbers to “defend our interests” (as they put it),
    More to the point, what will happen if things kick off somewhere else in the world when the Squaddies are signing on?
    Not to worry, under the ConDems less means more...apparently.


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