UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will announce an extra £5 billion in military spending ahead of next week’s budget announcement, despite expectations that cost of living support measures will be cut back and any public sector pay-rises fail to match inflation.

Sunak is expected to announce the boost during a trip to Washington this week for a summit with US President Joe Biden and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese over the future direction of the AUKUS military pact. The pact, which has been slated for increasing regional tensions, centres on provision of nuclear-powered submarines for Australia as well as cooperation on a vast number of military capabilities including advanced cyber, AI, undersea, electronic warfare and hypersonic weapons. Announcements on the future of the programme are expected in the near future.

The Times reports that the £5 billion boost falls short of what was sought by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace. The Ministry of Defence had asked for up to £11 billion over the next two years, which they say is the minimum needed to keep in line with inflation. Wallace had also demanded a commitment from the Treasury to increase spending in line with inflation beyond the next spending review in 2025.

Meanwhile, Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt is expected to pare back cost-of-living support packages. Already announced is the raising of the energy price cap to £3,000.  

Sunak’s trip to Washington comes as the SOS NHS campaign plans a national demonstration in London on Saturday, 11 March. Backed by CND’s ‘Nurses Not Nukes’ campaign, we are demanding urgent funding for the NHS and a pay rise for staff. On Budget Day, CND will be joining the Save Our Schools demonstration as part of our ‘Wages Not Weapons’ campaign.

CND General Secretary Kate Hudson said: “The government needs to adjust its spending priorities and one big saving can be made by scrapping nuclear weapons. The lifetime costs of Trident replacement are over £205 billion. Global problems can’t be solved by war or nuclear weapons. And Britain is already the world’s fourth largest military spender. Why should our schools, healthcare, and public services be sacrificed for more military spending?” 

Image credits: MoD / LCpl Craig Williams and Stuart A Hill AMS