In Britain, we devote a great deal of time debating the morality and efficacy of intervention in many desperate parts of the world. But increasingly, that debate is turning into an exercise in theoretics, as we rapidly dispense with our ability to intervene militarily, even if we wanted to. The reduction of army regulars from 102,000 to 82,000 already leaves Britain in a far weaker position and with far fewer options to act on the world stage. It’s absolutely vital that we keep up with our Nato commitment to spend 2 per cent of GDP on defence. What good is a mutual security agreement where the members can’t assure one another’s security? As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Britain is supposed to be able to enforce international law, but this risks turning into a farce. If Britain’s voice is to mean something in the world, then we must be able to back up our words with actions.
Penny Mordaunt MP is minister of state for the armed forces, says No
The UK is the only country to meet both the Nato 2 per cent GDP target on defence and to spend 0.7 per cent on international aid. By increasing defence spending in real terms every year, we are sending a strong message to our allies and enemies, underlining the government’s commitment to our national security. We’re spending £163bn on equipment over the next decade to make sure our armed forces have the capabilities they need to keep Britain safe: new strike fighters, attack helicopters, frigates, hunter killer submarines and our new aircraft carriers. Any suggestion that Britain is unable to respond to global threats is unfounded. This year alone, 46,456 soldiers have been deployed on commitments in 40 countries. Beyond combat operations, we have provided vital humanitarian support to Nepal, Sierra Leone and Vanuatu to name just a few. Our armed forces are the best in the world, and they stand ready to protect our country, as well as our interests around the world.