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Hunt accused of twisted priorities with spiralling ‘defence’ budget

Jeremy Hunt

Hunt accused of twisted priorities with spiralling ‘defence’ budget

The Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has been accused of wasting billions on a sky-high ‘defence’ budget, while failing to adequately address the threats posed by climate change and the cost-of-living crisis. 

Speaking after Jeremy Hunt's budget speech this afternoon, the Peace Pledge Union (PPU) noted that more ammunition and submarines would do nothing to protect people from the real security threats they face, including environmental catastrophe and the cost-of-living crisis.  

The government has announced an increase in military spending of £11bn over the next five years - despite the UK’s military spending being already the 4th highest in the world, after the USA, China and India. This comes on top of the extra £24 billion military spending announced in 2020, the largest increase in 70 years. 

Much of the increase is expected to be spent on military equipment, all while millions struggle with the cost of living.  

The Peace Pledge Union, the UK's leading pacifist organisation, said that “defence” should mean laying strong foundations in terms of well-funded public services, fairer wages and greater international co-operation to provide defence against the grave threat of climate disaster. 

The PPU pointed out that while successive government security reviews have all listed climate change as a security priority, ministers have continued to ignore this and increasingly equate security with preparations for war. 

The UK’s military spending far outstrips the budget for reducing carbon emissions. Hunt’s increase in military spending by £11bn over 5 years contrasts with his pledge of £20bn over 20 years for ‘low-carbon energy projects’ – a much slower rate of increase. 

Peace Pledge Union spokesperson Jonathan Maunders said: 

“The increasingly visible effects of climate change act as a reminder that weapons cannot keep us safe. The Covid-19 vaccine response showed up us what can happen when people around the world work together for common aims and the climate emergency should be no different. 

“Meanwhile, if you are struggling with the cost of living because of spiralling fuel bills and your wages not keeping up with inflation, then ammunition or nuclear submarines won't make you any safer. Defence and security must no longer be used as euphemisms for war. We need a budget for real security, not for war." 

On Monday the PPU responded to the government's announcement of an initial £5 billion rise in military spending over two years, accusing the government of using Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine to further its own military spending agenda.  

Since the start of the war the PPU has consistently condemned the Russian invasion and supported both Russian and Ukrainian peace activists. They have called for a ceasefire and urgent peace talks to end the bloodshed.

The Peace Pledge Union is a group of people who have pledged to resist war and to tackle its causes. Join us here!