Jeremy Hunt defends civil service cuts to increase defense spending

Jeremy Hunt defended plans to cut civil service jobs to increase defense spending and aid to Ukraine during a surprise visit to Kiev.

The Prime Minister said the cost of cutting public services would be “significantly lower” than delivering success to Russia.

The government has committed to increase British military spending 2.5% of national income by 2030.

Mr Hunt confirmed that the increase would cost an additional £20bn, which Labor claims will be funded by 70,000 job cuts.

Downing Street said the plan would be funded by existing commitments to reduce civil service headcount to pre-corona levels and by giving the Department of Defense (MoD) a share of the already announced increase in government research spending. He said it would be done.

The Public and Commercial Services Union said cutting civil service jobs to pay for increased defense spending could lead to longer waiting lists for new passports, driving tests and licenses.

The announcement came after Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed that the UK would provide an additional £500 million to Ukraine this year, on top of the £2.5 billion already allocated to the country.

Sunak added that the UK could continue to provide Ukraine with “at least the current level of military support every year that is required”.

Speaking in Kiev ahead of a meeting with President Volodymyr Zelensky, Mr Hunt said he hoped the funding increase would be a “turning point in this war”.

“Other European countries will follow our lead, and that will send a message to President Putin that he will not succeed,” Hunt said.

He added that the UK “has a special role” in supporting the Ukraine war effort because “it has Europe’s largest defense budget”.

“I’m here because if we want to restore peace to Europe, we must ensure that President Putin’s evil war of aggression does not succeed here in Ukraine,” he said.

Ajax Ares tank at military base in Dorset

[Getty Images]

“It’s a choice, but the choice we’re making is to invest in the security and defense of Europe,” he said of cutting civil servant jobs to free up defense spending and support for Ukraine.

“And if we stop what President Putin is trying to do in Ukraine, it will ultimately cost us all a lot less.

“I think it makes sense to reduce civil service services to pre-COVID-19 levels, and I believe we can do that by delivering public services more efficiently.”

Mr Hunt confirmed that spending would rise gradually over the next six years, resulting in £20bn more than if spending remained at its current level of 2.3% of GDP.

The additional funding will also help finance Department of Defense programs already underway, including ordering new naval frigates, developing new fighter jets and modernizing the UK’s nuclear weapons systems.

These programs have proven to be extremely expensive, and the Department of Defense is struggling to make ends meet with existing resources.

Labour’s shadow defense secretary, John Healy, said on Tuesday that Labor wanted to see a “fully funded plan” to reach this level.

But he added that the Conservatives “have shown time and time again that they cannot be trusted when it comes to defence.”

He said Labor would review military resources within its first year in office if it wins a general election later this year.

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