UK shadow defense secretary is set to urge the conservative government to halt further cuts to the army, in a bid to keep supplying Ukraine with lethal arms and produce weapons and ammunition to restore the country’s already depleted military stockpiles.
“The next government will inherit the Ukraine conflict,” John Healey will say in a speech at the Royal United Services Institute think-tank in London on Tuesday, while stressing the necessity of arming Ukraine against Russia, regardless of its deadly consequences.
According to excerpts of his speech released in advance on Monday, he is set to call on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to crank up British industry to secure the country’s position as the leading European state in NATO.
The shadow secretary’s comments came after the UK Treasury signaled there is “no new money” for the armed forces despite recognizing the urgent need to rearm in the wake of the war in Ukraine.
Under current plans, the army is due to shrink to 73,000 full-time soldiers from 82,000. It is currently at just under 76,000.
Defense sources have warned that the UK military will be unable “credibly” to offer as many troops as NATO allies would expect to Ukraine, revealing that Number 10 has no plans to ramp up defense spending due to the already strained budget.
British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace was at pains to confirm that the UK military has already been “hollowed out and underfunded” in light of his government’s continuing campaign to pump Ukraine full of deadly weapons.
According to a report by a British tabloid earlier last week, all of the UK’s 30 serviceable AS-90 self-propelled artillery guns have been sent to Kiev, leaving two Royal Artillery regiments of the island country completely disarmed.
PM Sunak has also promised to send 14 Challenger 2 main battle tanks to Ukraine in the coming weeks.
The UK spent £48.6 billion on defense in 2022, accounting for about 2.1 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
In spite of the large spending, Barrons insisted the UK’s military is now “barely tier two”, a designation which would place it among the ranks of Germany and Italy, rather than “tier one” militaries like those of the US, China, Russia, or France.
The news comes as the UK faces its worst cost-of-living crisis in living memory, with the government facing growing pressure to address issues including surging inflation, skyrocketing energy prices, and a looming recession.