“UK military spending is inflated by the cost of developing the new Dreadnought class of submarines to carry the Trident nuclear missiles, and the development of a new warhead for that same system.”
By Beth Winter MP
The recent announcement of a new $50m investment in Lakenheath airbase in East Anglia by the US Air Force has stoked fears that the US will once again threaten greater global instability by positioning its own nuclear weapons in the UK, having reportedly removed them in 2008.
Yet this latest $50m investment reflects just a tiny fraction of the US Defense Budget – the worlds greatest military expenditure – where President Biden has proposed the largest ever peacetime budget of $886bn for 2024.
US spending alone this year amounts to 40% of global spending, with China and Russia amounting to 17% between them. The UK – whilst spending less than a tenth of the US budget, at around $68bn, still has the largest budget in Europe and remains close to Russian spending levels.
UK military spending is inflated by the cost of developing the new Dreadnought class of submarines to carry the Trident nuclear missiles, and the development of a new warhead for that same system. Add to that the new aircraft carrier ships and plans for a new fighter plane, and the Ministry of Defence and its private contractor manufacturers, continue to consume vast funds.
The UK and US are further spreading their military interdependence and alliances, not only with the reported redeployment of US nuclear weapons at USAF Lakenheath in East Anglia, but the new Joint Declaration of Support for Ukraine at the July NATO summit to complement their weapon supply, and the agreement of the AUKUS Treaty with Australia, which will see the UK support the development of Australian nuclear-powered attack submarines to counter China in the Pacific Ocean.
As the Ukraine war and numerous other conflicts, including those less reported across the African continent, continue to consume military resources, the global backdrop is one of growing expenditure on war-fighting capabilities, even as the victims of the cost-of-living crisis, spending cuts, and the climate challenge, are left starved of support.
- This article appears in the special Labour Outlook hard-copy bulletin for Autumn 2023. Download and read it here.
- Beth Winter is the MP for Cynon Valley and a regular contributor to Labour Outlook, you can follow her on Facebook, Instagram and twitter.
- If you support Labour Outlook’s work amplifying the voices of left movements and struggles here and internationally, please consider becoming a supporter on Patreon.