A “once-in-a-generation modernisation” of the armed forces which is the biggest programme of investment in British defence since the end of the Cold War. That’s the news from Prime Minister as he announces a military investment of £16.5 billion will fund the development of Artificial Intelligence and a National Cyber Force aimed at targeting terrorism, organised crime and hostile state activity.

The UK is also setting up Space Command, a wing of the Armed Forces which will be capable of launching Britain’s first rocket as early as 2022, the prime minister has announced.

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said:

“I have taken this decision in the teeth of the pandemic because the defence of the realm must come first.

The international situation is more perilous and more intensely competitive than at any time since the Cold War and Britain must be true to our history and stand alongside our allies. To achieve this we need to upgrade our capabilities across the board.

This is our chance to end the era of retreat, transform our Armed Forces, bolster our global influence, unite and level up our country, pioneer new technology and defend our people and way of life.”

These projects are expected to create up to 10,000 thousand jobs annually across the UK.

The Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, said:

“This is excellent news for Defence, and provides us with the financial certainty we need to modernise, plan for the future and adapt to the threats we face. It demonstrates the Prime Minister’s recognition of how important Defence is to our resilience and to the reputation of the United Kingdom.

Next year represents a huge opportunity for this country, and Defence will be at the forefront of creating the jobs and business opportunities that will help us build back from the pandemic.”

Sir Keir Starmer questions the defence budget increase

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer welcomed the billions in extra funding but asked where it will come from.

“We welcome this additional funding for our defence and security forces and we agree that it is vital to end what the prime minister calls – I have to say, with complete lack of self-awareness – an era of retreat. But this is a spending announcement without a strategy.  So can the prime minister tell us today, will the commitments he’s made require additional borrowing, mean tax rises – if so, which ones – or will the money have to come from other departmental budgets”