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Boris Johnson faces tax questions after signalling defence budget rise

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theguardian.com

Boris Johnson has signalled a significant increase in the UK’s defence budget to 2.5% of GDP by the end of the decade, raising questions about his commitment to cutting taxes, as a Nato summit dominated by the Ukraine conflict drew to an end in Madrid.“We need to invest for the long term in vital capabilities like future combat air while simultaneously adapting to a more dangerous and more competitive world,” the prime minister told a press conference.“The logical conclusion of the investments on which we propose to embark, these decisions, is that we’ll reach 2.5% of GDP on defence by the end of the decade.”Downing Street insisted Johnson’s remarks did not constitute a concrete pledge, with any formal decisions left for the future; however, it followed pressure from the defence secretary, Ben Wallace, for more resources beyond the current spending round, which ends in 2024-25.After Johnson’s announcement, a source close to the defence secretary said Wallace had “always been clear that as the threat changes, so should defence spending”.Defence sources said the decision would mean a total budget of £74.5bn in 2029-30, and a cumulative extra £55.1bn to reach 2.5% in 2030.With many Conservative backbench MPs pressing for the government to slash taxes, the announcement raises questions about where Johnson’s priorities lie – and what offer the Tories will make at the next election on tax and spending.Torsten Bell, the director of the Resolution Foundation, said: “If we’re permanently going to get to 2.5%, then you are talking about a significant shift in what the state is doing.

In the long run, we’ve managed to grow our welfare state without raising taxes, by shrinking the military. If we’re wanting to reverse the direction

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