A government forecast has shown aid spending to third world countries will be higher than defence expenditure in less than two decades, as the Prime Minister seems to have lost enthusiasm for a military spending treaty he signed and championed only last year.
In an age where foreign aid spending has become one of the few areas of ‘ring-fenced’ government spending areas, the House of Commons library has shown British spending on foreign nations will exceed the defence budget by 2030. The revelation has come amid a persistent failure by the Prime Minister to commit himself and the government to defence spending, even at a level as low as the two percent of GDP required of members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
At a major Cardiff NATO summit in 2014, David Cameron was party to the Wales Summit Declaration, in which signatories were required to not allow their defence spending to drop between the treaty-mandated level of two percent. The Prime Minister even chided other NATO members for not hitting the target in his end of summit speech.
Although this level of spending has always been a requirement of NATO membership, it has never been an ambition realised, and since the end of the Cold War the situation has deteriorated.
Only four NATO members actually hit the level required, which may fall to just one – the United States – if present trends continue. A European think-tank recently suggested that British defence spending as a percentage of GDP could fall to as low as 1.8 percent after this years election. By way of comparison, Russia will increase its defence spending over the next year alone.
While the decline is being apparently managed by the government, individual Conservative members of parliament and grass-root activists are furious with the neglect of the defence budget. The Daily Telegraph reports the remarks of Conservative MP John Barron who said of the coming cuts: “The fact that DFID spending could one day match defence spending illustrates the folly of ring-fencing departmental budgets.
“We should never forget that the first duty of Government remains the defence of the realm. In a world where many countries not necessarily friendly to the west are re-arming and becoming more assertive, we should instead be spending more on our Armed Forces.”
This is not the first time the Government’s commitments to foreign aid spending has come under fire from critics. Britain’s aid to former Dominion India has long been a key point of contention between the government, India, and the British public, considering India’s own significant defence budget and space programme.
As Breitbart London reported last week, India received £1.8 billion from the UK over the past eight years in aid payments, a move which presented against a background of India spending over £5 billion on a programme of nuclear submarine building has been called “embarrassing”. The government has finally announced the payment of aid to India will cease – with the money being sent to other foreign countries instead.