The British government says it will boost anti-terrorism spending by 30 percent, including buying new stealth fighter jets. The announcement comes on the eve of expected massive spending cuts that could decimate public services.
The decision to increase security spending was made by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne on Sunday, who said he wants to make sure that London is capable of doing its part in the fight against terrorism.
“We are going to step up the aircraft carrier punch of the United Kingdom. We are going to make sure that when these aircraft carriers are available they are going to have planes that can fly from them in force,” Osborne told BBC television.
“By 2023, we will be able to have 24 of these jets, some of the most powerful in the world, the F-35, on the decks of these carriers.”
To pay for increased anti-terrorism spending, Osborne plans to slash social welfare spending in what the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is calling the most aggressive austerity plan amongst the world’s developed nations between now and 2020.
The UK chancellor also refused to rule out introducing spending cuts to the police force. “Every public service has to make sure it is spending money well,” he told the BBC.
Osborne is expected to announce an estimated £20 billion ($30 billion) worth of budget cuts on Wednesday, as the Conservative government aims to run a budget surplus by 2020.
Labour Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell was scathing about Osborne’s comments, saying he was appalled that the idea of cutting back on police numbers was even being discussed, particularly in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.
“If [George Osborne] cuts the police service in the way he’s planned, that undermines our security,” McDonnell said.
I am saying to him directly, end the cuts to policing because all the police chiefs are saying you are putting our communities at risk. I will support him if he says, straightforwardly, policing cuts will not take place,” McDonnell said, speaking to the BBC.
However, Osborne says he believes he is doing the right thing by increasing anti-terrorism spending by almost one-third, despite cuts elsewhere.“We will make sure that Britain is properly defended against the terrorist threat,” he said.
The increased spending on boosting the UK’s defenses comes as London said in July that it would commit to NATO’s defense spending pledge of 2 percent of GDP for the next two years.
In October, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the UK will order four new nuclear submarines to replace its existing flotilla.
Speaking at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Cameron said the nuclear deterrent is the country’s “ultimate insurance policy.”
“Our independent nuclear deterrent is our ultimate insurance policy – this government will order four new Trident submarines,” he said.