Can Britain afford to skimp on its armed forces?

Defence spending is back on the agenda. Last week, senior American military figures criticised Britain’s levels of spending. Now the Daily Mail reports than David Cameron is “under intense pressure from both his own MPs and former generals to guarantee that the Conservatives will continue to spend at least 2% of Britain’s national income on defence”.

But a study by the Royal United Services Institute says that it is inevitable that spending will fall below that level and warns that 30,000 more military personnel could lose their jobs.

Further cuts would be catastrophic for Britain, for our foreign policy, and for our national prestige”, says the former home secretary, David Davis, in The Guardian.

We now have fewer active RAF squadrons than at any time since the cold war, at a time when Russia is making “near daily incursions towards our airspace”. Balancing the budget is important, but “defence of the realm is any government’s first duty”.

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