UK to unveil ‘largest military investment’ in three decades

London, Nov 19 (AFP/APP):Prime Minister Boris Johnson will on Thursday unveil what is being billed as Britain’s biggest programme of investment in the armed forces since the end of the Cold War.

In a speech to lawmakers in parliament, Johnson will announce an extra £16.5 billion ($22 billion, 18.5 billion euros) in funding over the next four years.

It follows the ruling Conservatives’ commitment in their election manifesto last year to increase defence spending by 0.5 percent above inflation until 2025.

Johnson’s Downing Street office said the cash boost would “cement the UK’s position as the largest defence spender in Europe and the second largest in NATO”.

It comes despite Britain’s economy suffering a historic downturn this year due to the coronavirus crisis, which has seen the government spend unprecedented sums to support people and businesses.

“I have taken this decision in the teeth of the pandemic because the defence of the realm must come first,” Johnson said in remarks released ahead of his speech.

“The international situation is more perilous and more intensely competitive than at any time since the Cold War and Britain must be true to our history and stand alongside our allies.”

He added the new funding was “our chance to end the era of retreat” and that it would be used to “upgrade our capabilities across the board”.

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