UK to increase defence spending to 2.5% of GDP - meaning tens of billions of pounds of extra funding

The UK will increase defence spending to 2.5% of national income by 2030, the prime minister is expected to announce in a hardening of military policy at a time of growing threats.

The expected rise is less ambitious than some insiders say is needed - but it will mean tens of billions of additional pounds for the armed forces over the next six years.

Rishi Sunak had previously said any extra investment would only happen when economic conditions allow. That caveat looks set to be removed.

The UK move comes at a time of escalating threats to global security posed by Russia's war in Ukraine, conflict in the Middle East and an ever-more assertive China.

The "world is less safe than it has been in decades", the prime minister said, speaking earlier in the day on a trip to Poland, where he also revealed a new package of weapons, ammunition and £500 million in funds for the Ukrainian armed forces.

The UK currently spends just over 2% of GDP on defence, but it has recently started to include the money used to support Ukraine against Russia's full-scale invasion to boost - critics say artificially - this figure.

The expectation is that the plan for a rise in defence spending over the next six years would only be dedicated to the core Ministry of Defence budget - amounting to a total of tens of billions of pounds of additional money in total.

Defence insiders have long warned that new investment is urgently required to fill yawning gaps in capability across the army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force after decades of cost-saving cuts made by successive governments since the end of the Cold War.

There is also a need to revamp the ability to defend the homeland.

Sky News revealed earlier this month that the UK also has no plan for its own defences in the event of a war.

Officials have started to work on a cross-government "national defence plan".

But any shift back to a Cold War-style, ready-for-war-footing would require political leaders to make defence a genuinely national effort once again - rather than something that is just delivered by the armed forces.

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