Gavin Williamson 'to ask Theresa May for £4bn a year defence budget boost'

Posted On: 
27th June 2018

Gavin Williamson is set to ask Theresa May for up to £4 billion a year extra for the UK’s defence budget, it has been reported.

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According to the Times, the Defence Secretary is set to confront the Prime Minister at a crunch meeting next week.

Meanwhile the Guardian reports that Number 10 is seeking to rein in Mr Williamson's demands for the the Treasury to honour a 3% pay rise for services personnel at a cost of some £200m a year.

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The paper says Downing Street is siding with the Treasury and has tabled a compromise offer which may see a 3% offer in the first year but with smaller rises thereafter.

A source said: "It is absolutely right for Gavin Williamson to fight for the armed forces. But he has to understand there are other public servants also in line for pay rises.”

It follows reports over the weekend that Mr Williamson had threatened to bring down Mrs May unless she handed more money to the military.

The former chief whip - who led Mrs May’s leadership campaign - is said to have told military chiefs: "I can make her and I can break her."

The revelations sparked a backlash from Tory colleagues, with one telling PoliticsHome: "Williamson's intemperate and frankly bizarre media posturing shows just how unsuited he is for any high office whatsoever."

Former army boss Lord Houghton weighed into the funding row yesterday, accusing the Government of "living a lie" over military resources.

He said ministers had "slightly deluded the public that we have a defence programme that... insiders know... is unaffordable."

The intervention came as the Commons Defence Select Committee suggested the department’s budget should be to be increased to 3% of GDP rather than the Nato target of 2% the UK currently maintains.

However, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss last night warned that the £25bn cash boost for the NHS would not be replicated across Whitehall.

Speaking at the London School of Economics, she said: "My point to my colleagues is that any additional spending will necessarily - most likely - lead to additional taxation and we should be honest when we have that discussion.

"We need to keep tax as low as possible."