LONDON — Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has pledged Britain will meet NATO’s target of spending 2 percent of national income on defense for the remainder of the decade.
“We are committing today to meet the NATO pledge to spend 2 percent of our national income on defense. Not just this year, but every year of this decade,” Osborne said in his budget speech to Parliament on Wednesday. “We will ensure that this commitment is properly measured, because we know that while those commitments don’t come cheap, the alternatives are far more costly.”
Britain’s continuing commitment to the 2 percent figure beyond this year has been in doubt since the new Conservative government refused to give any indication it would maintain the key spending target.
Osborne’s comments came in a budget which spelled out government plans to cut £37 billion (US $57.4 billion) from overall spending during the five-year life of the new administration. Some £19 billion of that will be achieved by welfare spending reductions.
The government recently announced it was cutting £500 million from this year’s £34.7 billion budget, in part by pushing programs to the right and taking any departmental underspend.
No details have been released on exactly how that 2 percent figure might be achieved, but Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has recently indicated post-conflict aid money might be included in the defense budget.