Boris Johnson will announce today that Britain is significantly increasing its nuclear arsenal amid a threat of terrorist ‘dirty bombs’.
He will signal a shift to a ‘more robust position on security and deterrence’ which will see troops deployed overseas ‘more often and for longer periods’.
The Prime Minister is also expected to use the publication of the Integrated Review of security, defence, and foreign policy to restate his commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of Britain’s income on aid.
Boris Johnson will set out a ‘more robust position on security and deterrence’ that could see troops sent overseas more regularly, and for longer periods of time
The 100-page review, which was leaked last night, will set out the Government’s view of Britain’s place in the world after Brexit.
It declares: ‘We will move from defending the status quo within the post-Cold War international system to dynamically shaping the post-Covid order.’
There will be a £24billion rise in spending on defence as the UK moves into the ‘new frontiers’ of space and cyber-warfare. Key points in the review are:
- Britain is to lift the maximum number of Trident nuclear warheads it can stockpile by more than 40 per cent, from 180 to 260;
- The terrorist threat to the UK, including Islamist and Northern Ireland-linked extremists, remains ‘all too real’;
- There is a ‘realistic possibility’ that terror groups could launch a successful attack involving chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons by 2030;
- The UK should pursue a ‘positive trade and investment relationship’ with China while protecting national security;
- Britain’s bases in Kenya, Oman, Singapore, Cyprus, Gibraltar and Germany will be revamped so troops can respond more quickly to threats.
The review also paves the way for cuts to conventional forces, with the RAF set to lose 24 Typhoon jets and its 14 Super Hercules transport planes.
The Navy is said to be facing the loss of two submarine-hunting frigates, HMS Montrose and HMS Monmouth, as well as its 13 minehunters, which are due to be replaced by drones.
And Army commanders are expected to have to say goodbye to 10,000 personnel, four infantry battalions, 77 tanks and 760 Warrior fighting vehicles.
The review is expected to signal a post-Brexit ’tilt’ toward the Indo-Pacific region.
The HMS Queen Elizabeth carrier strike group will be deployed to the Indo-Pacific region as sources say ministers believe it is becoming the ‘geopolitical centre of the world’
Sources said ministers believed the region was increasingly becoming the ‘geopolitical centre of the world’.
This shift will be underlined by the deployment of the HMS Queen Elizabeth carrier strike group to the region on its maiden operational mission this year.
The papers lay out a pledge to protect Gibraltar and the Falklands.
Defence debt ‘could wipe out £16billion boost for budget’
Billions of pounds promised for military equipment could be lost in a ‘funding black hole’.
The warning by MPs comes as Boris Johnson launches a long-awaited review of security, defence and foreign policy.
The Prime Minister has pledged £16.5billion for cyber warfare, artificial intelligence, unmanned aircraft and ‘directed-energy’ weapons. But the Commons public accounts committee said much of this money will be needed to pay for kit already ordered by the Ministry of Defence. It estimates top brass have run up debts of up to £17.4billion on aircraft, ships and weapons.
Meg Hillier, the Labour chairman of the committee, said this could mean the £16.5billion is ‘swallowed whole’.
The MoD said it had ‘secured a substantial settlement over four years in order to restore financial sustainability’.
Armed Forces will ‘deter and challenge incursions in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters’ and ‘maintain a permanent presence in the Falkland Islands, Ascension Island and the British Indian Ocean Territory’, the documents say.
The decision to commit to reinstating Britain’s controversial foreign aid target comes just months after it was cut.
Criticised for waste, it was reduced to 0.5 per cent in Rishi Sunak’s spending review last year.
The Daily Mail revealed at the weekend that ministers were backtracking on a commitment to change the law, which currently requires 0.7 per cent to be spent.
Instead, they are considering relying on a loophole which allows for a lower level of spending when finances are tight.
The reduction in the target will save about £4billion, making the budget £10billion.
Mr Johnson’s decision to publicly recommit to the target today suggests the cut is likely to be very short term.
The Integrated Review, entitled Global Britain in a Competitive Age, will also include the construction of a White House-style situation room based in the Cabinet Office and a new Counter-Terrorism Operations Centre to improve the authorities’ ability to respond to incidents.
In the Commons today Mr Johnson is expected to say the UK needs to use ‘all the tools at our disposal’ to ensure a world where democracies can still flourish at a time when some countries are seeking to undermine the open and liberal international order.
He will tell MPs: ‘I am profoundly optimistic about the UK’s place in the world.’
The Navy is said to be facing the loss of two submarine-hunting frigates, HMS Montrose and HMS Monmouth, as well as its 13 minehunters, which are due to be replaced by drones
However, military chiefs have made clear the investment in new technologies will mean cuts to ‘industrial age’ capabilities.
This has alarmed some MPs, including Tobias Ellwood, Conservative chairman of the defence committee.
He told the Commons yesterday that the country was about to witness a ‘shocking reduction’ in its conventional hard power in favour of new ‘niche capabilities’.