Cameron looks to increase defence spending - for free

Billy Ehrenberg
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Currently Britain’s three intelligence agencies, MI5, MI6, and GSHQ are all funded by the single intelligence account, with the details classified (Source: Getty)

There is more than one way to skin a cat - and, it seems, plump up a defence budget. David Cameron has instructed ministers to find out whether the budgets of intelligence agencies can be lumped in as part of defence spending.

The UK has come under pressure recently from the US to maintain its defence spending at two per cent of GDP, the level expected of a NATO power. In reality, many states do not pay their way.

These are austere times, and injecting money into the defence budget when there is a cost of living debate to be won may not be smart politics. Instead, the Financial Times reports, Cameron has asked Oliver Letwin, his head of policy, to investigate exactly what spending can be counted under the heading of defence.

Currently, Britain’s three intelligence agencies, MI5, MI6, and GSHQ, are all funded by a single intelligence account, whose details are (unsurprisingly) classified.

This shows how much different countries spend on defence.

Along the bottom is total spending, while the left axis shows spending as a percentage of GDP. Red bubbles mean a country increased its GDP-proportionate spending between 2012 and 2013, the most recent year for which there is full data. Transparent bubbles are non-Nato members, and the size of the bubbles is a second way of visualising the total 2013 dollars spent. All data is from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

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