Is the defence budget safe from more cuts?


The prime minister does "not resile" from his commitment to increase defence spending after the next election, reporters on his trip to Africa were told yesterday.

In October 2010 David Cameron signalled that after five years of cuts, defence spending would start rising again from 2015 onwards.

How is that possible given that the Treasury has extended the age of austerity and is now negotiating with government departments for further cuts for the year 2015-6 ?

No deals have been done yet. No final decisions taken. But I am told that the Treasury knows that it cannot make the prime minister eat his words. However, what they can do is some creative accounting.

There will be cash released by the drawdown of British troops from Afghanistan. There is a fund separate from the defence budget called "the reserve" which could be raided. There are, no doubt, other wheezes.

A way will be found to keep the PM's promise but the Treasury will want to do it without raiding other governing budgets if possible.

All this is being haggled over now ahead of future announcements by the chancellor. Before then stand by for numerous campaigns on behalf of this or that lobby group.

The armed forces know how to play the Whitehall game.

Inside No 10 they joke that the annual scare story about scrapping the Red Arrows or the Trooping of the Colour will surely follow soon.

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 215.

    I say bring back national service that way the savings on the dole money and savings made because less young immigrants will wish to come to the Uk can be used by the services

  • rate this

    Comment number 214.

    I say cut the defence budget to the bone, or further.

  • rate this

    Comment number 213.

    Question. How many people from Iraq, Afghanistan are invading the UK?
    Answer. NONE!
    So WHY are we over in their countries slaughtering them?
    Germany, Japan, Italy did just the same thing and the rest of the world was shocked!
    OH! I see! It's ALL to do with the politics and so called leaders and they NEVER end up doing the fighting! Just running their mouths!

  • rate this

    Comment number 212.

    Its such a shame that a P.M. Of our country should feel the need to have to re-state a pledge!
    The announcement is very welcome but it has only happened due to the "cords of the shower bath" being pulled on the Conservatives by UKIP. Those who have left the Conservatives for UKIP have done so for more than the single issue of Europe a very important part of UKIP appeal is their stance on defence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 211.

    But did he include the magic phrase “In real terms” Nick?
    Theoretically we could see inflation at – say – 3% & the Exchequer increasing defence spending at 1% per year.
    Well maybe, but, with all the cuts in Defence until 2015, there will be scope for a small rise afterwards & Davy can still say he’s a Man of his word.


Comments 5 of 215


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