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Ex-Minister: UK Needs $9B Annual Boost

Ex-Minister: UK Needs $9B Annual Boost

LONDON — Britain will need to find an extra £6 billion (US $9 billion) a year by the end of the decade to keep its defense budget in line with the NATO mandated spending level of 2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), a former defense minister said.

Nick Harvey, the Liberal Democrat defense spokesman in Parliament and the Armed Forces minister between 2010 and 2012, said figures that emerged in a think tank report on potential British cuts were pretty much in line with his understanding at the time of his departure from the MoD.

“The Royal United Services Institute [RUSI] work accords very much with my recollection of the figures when I left the MoD over two years ago. … By the end of the [next] Parliament, with no more defense cuts at all, the gap between the defense budget and what is likely to be 2 percent of the GDP by 2019 will be getting toward £6 billion,” Harvey said.

“This is why neither George Osborne [the chancellor of the Exchequer] or anybody else has been in any great hurry to commit firmly to the 2 percent because of the sums of money which will have to be found to achieve that,” he told reporters during a briefing March 11.

None of the leading political parties have so far committed to maintaining NATO spending levels beyond the next financial year.

Ahead of a general election scheduled for May 7, a major row has broken out here over potentially significant defense spending cuts as part of an expected new round of austerity measures.

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