Press release

PM says step up in defence spending can safeguard the future of NATO

PM Keir Starmer has underlined the UK’s cast iron commitment to spending 2.5% of GDP on defence to respond to growing threats, ahead of a NATO summit.

Prime Minister Keir Starmer has underlined the UK’s cast iron commitment to spending 2.5% of GDP on defence to respond to growing threats, ahead of a NATO summit where he will say a step up in defence spending can safeguard the future of the Alliance.  

At the summit in Washington D.C., the PM will emphasise his determination to face down global threats to Britain and its western allies. He will praise NATO members’ efforts to increase defence spending and say that further increases in spending will help the alliance tackle the nature of today’s threats.  

The Prime Minister has also confirmed today that he will launch the Government’s Strategic Defence Review next week, with detailed preparatory work already undertaken by Defence Secretary John Healey - who will oversee the review.  

The review will determine the future defence posture of the UK, the capabilities needed and will set out a roadmap to achieving 2.5% of GDP on defence. He will confirm that the review will put a ‘NATO-first’ policy at the heart of Britain’s defence plans.  

Prime Minister Keir Starmer said: 

“There is no more important duty for me as Prime Minister than keeping the people of our country safe.  

“At a time when we face multiple threats at home and abroad, we must make sure we are ready to defend ourselves. That’s why I have immediately ordered a root-and-branch review that will secure Britain’s defences for the future.  

“Working with our most important partners around the world, our Strategic Defence Review will make sure the UK is sending a clear message to those who seek to undermine peace and democracy – you will not succeed.”  

Defence Secretary John Healey said:  

“Britain’s commitment to NATO is unshakeable. We cannot have prosperity without security and we must never take our ability to live freely for granted. 

“The world is increasingly volatile with rapidly changing global threats. In the footsteps of Bevin, our government will help ensure we have a strong NATO in this increasingly insecure world. 

“Our government’s first duty is to keep the country safe. That’s why we will increase defence spending and launch a Strategic Defence Review to ensure we have the capabilities needed to protect the UK now and in the future. The Review will also set out defence reforms to secure faster procurement and better value for money.”

Foreign Secretary, David Lammy, said:   

“NATO is part of Britain’s DNA. 75 years ago, Ernest Bevin helped to establish NATO. Today, as then, our commitment to NATO is completely unshakeable.” 

“We cannot have stability and prosperity without national security. That’s why NATO is the ultimate guarantor of our ability to live freely and build a more prosperous future, for the people of this country and our Allies.”  

“Ukraine’s security is our security, so our priority for Washington must be to show that NATO support for Ukraine remains iron-clad, and our support will be sustained. Putin thinks he can outwait the West, but he is mistaken.” 

Building on our existing global defence partnerships such as AUKUS and GCAP, the Prime Minister is determined to make sure the UK is one of the leading defence players on the world stage, and alongside our like-minded partners prove that progressive, peaceful democracies will ultimately triumph over tyranny.  

The Strategic Defence Review will consider the nature of the threats we face – including Putin’s ongoing brutal invasion of Ukraine, continued instability in the Middle East and the rise of authoritarian countries - and the capabilities we need to tackle them.  

That includes the shape of our Armed Forces and their readiness to fight, enhancing our defence partnerships, developing a new defence industrial strategy, ensuring our defence staff have the capabilities and skills needed, and delivering procurement reform. 

The Review will be conducted in consultation with allies, industry and external experts and its recommendations will be reported to the Prime Minister and Defence Secretary, as well as being laid before parliament.  

A major element of the Strategic Defence Review will be an emphasis on deepening our defence ties with NATO countries and other international partners. 

Over the next two days, the Prime Minister will meet our most important allies for the first time on the international stage, to drive forward progress on defence and other priorities – including supporting Ukraine against Russia’s ongoing illegal war, which has now entered its third year.

Published 9 July 2024