UKIP’s defence spokesman and Commando Engineers veteran Mike Hookem has blasted a suggestion by Conservative defence minister Michael Fallon that the entire foreign aid and defence budgets be merged, calling it “ludicrous”.
Answering questions on defence, minister Fallon said the Ministry of Defence already claimed money from the Department for International Development, which oversees one of Britain’s only ‘ring-fenced’ government budgets, when the forces engage in aid work. On the accusation that British aid spending was going towards funding the armed forces of foreign nations, at a time where Britain’s own military was facing significant cuts, Fallon said there was a “very strong” case for counting this towards the national defence budget, reports The Express:
“We need to look at where expenditure from the defence and development budgets is security expenditure in the round.
“Where it is preventing conflict, helping to stabilise countries and avoiding the future commitment of British troops, there is a very strong case for looking at all these things together.”
Former commando engineer, MEP Mike Hookem told Breitbart London the plan to artificially boost defence spending with an accounting trick wouldn’t wash with the electorate, who would still see the real defence resources available to the UK dwindle:
“This is simply ludicrous. Another classic example of the Conservative Party trying to fudge the numbers to implement their skewed priorities.
“There are people’s lives on the line and it is about time the Government started adequately funding our armed forces. The British people do not want to see more of their money spent on foreign aid when our troops are poorly equipped and veterans are left abandoned after service.
“Enough is enough. Some things are more important than Cameron’s foreign aid vanity project, and protecting our armed forces is one of them.”
British forces are now routinely engaged in aid work around the globe, with the focus on humanitarian activity displacing the more traditional elements of defence and national pride. The Royal Air Force’s 2014 recruiting campaign video, shown on television and published on-line, invited the viewer to take part in the relief effort for a fictional humanitarian crisis.
RAF forces are shown in the 30-second video loading Department for International Development Land Rovers into transport aircraft and supplies being air-dropped, without any mention of war-fighting made.
The Royal Navy has also moved to use its key capital assets in aid work, sending helicopter carrier HMS Illustrious to the Philippines to deliver UK-aid branded assistance in the aftermath of typhoon Haiyan in 2013. RFA Argus was sent to Sierra Leone last year. The Argus was tasked with supporting an NHS hospital, set up by NHS staff created in Freetown on the African west coast to help tackle the Ebola outbreak in 2014.