LONDON — Britain’s Conservative Party has pledged not to cut troop numbers and increase defense equipment spending during the next Parliament if they win the May 7 general election, according to Defence Secretary Michael Fallon.
The defense secretary said a future Conservative Government would put a “triple lock guarantee that the size, shape and power” of the Armed Forces would be protected during a speech at the Royal United Services Institute in London on April 10.
The Tories manifesto due to be published next week would include an increase in the defense equipment budget of 1 percent a year in real terms every year throughout the five years of the next Parliament, there would be no further reduction in regular force numbers and four new Trident nuclear missile boats would be introduced starting in the late 2020s to replace the current Vanguard fleet.
The Conservative-led coalition pledged the increases to the £14 billion equipment procurement and support budget post 2015 just after they came to power in 2010, but the other two commitments are more recent. The pledge to build four boats rather than three, which was an option, was made by the Tories yesterday.
Fallon maintained the Conservative position of declining to commit Britain to meeting NATO spending targets of 2 percent of gross domestic product, but said the Armed Forces would get the capabilities they need.