The UK Government also set out a further £1bn funding to help Ukraine defeat President Putin's invasion.
NATO

PM commits to raising UK defence spending to 2.5% of GDP by end of decade

Boris Johnson said the "cost of freedom" is "always worth paying".

The UK Government also set out a further £1bn funding to help Ukraine defeat President Putin's invasion.

Boris Johnson has committed Britain to increasing defence spending to 2.5% of GDP by the end of the decade as NATO rises to the threat of Russian aggression.

The Prime Minister pledged the hike on Thursday after a Cabinet row over defence spending, and insisted that the "cost of freedom" is "always worth paying".

As Mr Johnson met with NATO leaders in Madrid, the Government also set out a further £1bn of funding to help Ukraine defeat the Russian invasion.

The UK is counting its support for Volodymyr Zelensky's resistance within its defence spending, taking the current level to around 2.3% of gross domestic product (GDP) – a measure of the size of the economy.

But, at a press conference at the NATO summit, Mr Johnson said it was necessary to "invest in the long term" while adapting to a "more dangerous and more competitive world".

Watch: PM urges other NATO leaders to spend more to modernise defence.

The UK's defence spending in 2020/21 came to £42.4bn in cash terms, with an increase of £2.5bn on the previous year – an increase of £1.7bn when taking inflation into account.

"The logical conclusion of the investments on which we propose to embark, these decisions, is that we’ll reach 2.5% of GDP on defence by the end of the decade," he said.

It is understood the pledge could amount to an extra £55.1bn cumulatively over the rest of the decade in order to reach the 2.5% goal in 2030, based on Office for Budget Responsibility forecasts of the size of the economy.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, who was at the centre of a Cabinet spending row over his high-profile campaign for more cash for defence, was said to be grateful for the announcement.

A source close to the minister said: "The Defence Secretary has always been clear that, as the threat changes, so should defence spending.

"In 2020, the Prime Minister reversed decades of under-investment in defence and he rightly responded to Russia's danger by continuing to invest in defence, for which the Defence Secretary is very grateful."

But Tobias Ellwood, the Tory chairman of the Commons Defence Committee, said it is "too little, too late".

Mr Ellwood, who has called for 3% of GDP to be spent on defence, also condemned Mr Johnson for going ahead with planned cuts to the size of the Army.

"This is NOT the time to cut the Army by 10,000," he said on Twitter.

"And moving to 2.5% defence spend by 2030 is too little too late."