UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced that the UK will ramp up investment in defence to meet challenges of an “increasingly volatile and complex world” as the government launches an update to the 2021 Integrated Review.
The 2023 Integrated Review Refresh (IR23) confirms an additional UK£5 billion will be provided to the Ministry of Defence over the next two years to help replenish and bolster ammunition stocks, modernise the UK’s nuclear enterprise and fund the next phase of the AUKUS submarine programme. This follows a £24 billion four-year cash uplift in defence spending in 2020, the largest sustained increase since the Cold War.
The PM will also set out an ambition to increase defence spending to 2.5% of GDP in the longer term, and the UK will lead a conversation with Allies on future posture and burden sharing at the NATO Summit in Lithuania this summer. Defence spending will be reviewed after 2025 in light of this ambition.
IR23 was commissioned to respond to emerging geopolitical threats, from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to China’s economic coercion and increased competition between states. These trends were identified in the original IR and have intensified in the last two years.
The report identifies a number of priorities to tackle those threats head-on. The first and foremost is dealing with the fundamental risk posed to European security by Russia and denying Moscow benefit from their invasion of Ukraine.
IR23 confirms that the UK will continue to play a leading role in Euro-Atlantic security while consolidating the strategic shift achieved in the Indo-Pacific tilt. As the first step to deliver on those priorities, the PM is in San Diego today (13 March 2023) for a meeting with President Biden and Prime Minister Albanese to advance the next phase of the AUKUS submarine programme.
“As the world becomes more volatile and competition between states becomes more intense, the UK must be ready to stand our ground,” said PM Rishi Sunak. “By investing in our armed forces for the long-term, we will be ready for the challenges of today and of the future. As I will discuss with our American and Australian allies in the US today, the UK will remain a leading contributor to NATO and a reliable international partner, standing up for our values from Ukraine to the South China Seas.”
IR23 sets out a number of additional priority actions to deliver on refreshed strategy, including:
- The creation of a new National Protective Security Authority within MI5, established from today [13th Mar] to provide a wide range of UK businesses and other organisations with immediate access to expert security advice
- Establishing an Economic Deterrence Initiative to strengthen the power of our sanctions enforcement, closing off routes for human rights abusers and oligarchs to evade sanctions
- Providing an additional £20m in funding for the BBC World Service, ensuring it can continue to provide 42 vital language services – including in countries targeted by hostile states for disinformation
And other priorities. The ‘Integrated Review Refresh 2023: Responding to a More Contested and Volatile World’ will be presented to Parliament by the Foreign Secretary James Cleverly later today (13 March 2023) and then published in full on gov.uk.