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Ministers face protests over military spending during cost-of-living crisis

British army tanks in Estonia

Ministers face protests over military spending during cost-of-living crisis

Members and allies of the Peace Pledge Union will today gather outside the Ministry of 'Defence' to demonstrate and hand out leaflets.

Under the slogan Fund Heating, Not Bombing, they are insisting that the UK government should slash their military budget and tackle the Cost-of-Living crisis and the climate emergency. The UK government maintains the fourth highest military budget in the world.

The Peace Pledge Union (PPU), Britain's leading pacifist network, said it is obscene for Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt to preside over an energy crisis, an underfunded NHS and real-terms wage cuts while spending nearly £1billion every week on war and preparations for war.

They pointed out that this is more than £14 per week for every person in the UK.

PPU members and allies will demonstrate and hand out leaflets outside the Ministry of 'Defence' near Whitehall from 12 noon to 2pm today.

Afterwards, some of them will join a walking protest outside arms company offices involved in the war in Yemen, organised by the London branch of the Campaign Against Arms Trade.

In this Autumn Statement last month, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt committed to making no cuts to the so-called 'defence' budget, and later said that he wants to increase it next year. At the same time, he reduced support for dealing with high energy bills and failed to rule out real-terms pay cuts for public sector workers. His funding for the NHS has been condemned as woefully inadequate by groups representing nurses and other healthcare workers.

The UK government is carrying out a review of 'defence' policy. 'Defence' Secretary Ben Wallace has said that it will be published before the budget in March.

The PPU said that there would be further actions around the UK to challenge military spending in the run-up to the review and the budget in the spring.

"We're struggling to pay the bills and heat our homes," declared PPU members today. "Let's not waste billions on war and the arms trade."

The PPU added, "So-called 'defence' spending won't defend us from the threats of poverty, pandemics and climate chaos. The only thing that military spending really defends is the profits of arms companies."

PPU members and allies will today hand out a new leaflet, pointing out that the UK military budget includes providing military training to regimes such as Saudi Arabia, whose forces are attacking civilians in Yemen in much the same way that Putin's forces are attacking Ukrainians.

"Spending billions on weapons did not stop Putin's invasion of Ukraine," points out the leaflet. "The war there will end only with real and difficult negotiations, and support for grassroots peace campaigns".

The PPU condemnded the Russian invasion of Ukraine as soon as it began. Throughout the war in Ukraine, the PPU has liaised with Ukrainian and Russian peace activists.

The PPU is the British section of War Resisters' International, which unites pacifists in six continents. Other member organisations include the Ukrainian Pacifist Movement and the Russian Movement for Conscientious Objectors.

Fund Heating, Not Bombing! Sign the petition here.