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Peace activists call on Tory government to ‘cut war, not wages’

PEACE activists called on the Tory government to “cut war, not wages” at nationwide protests against spiralling defence spending today.

Protesters gathered outside the Ministry of Defence (MoD) offices in Whitehall on Friday morning as staff entered the site, waving placards reading: “Nurses not nukes.”

Rallies and leafleting actions were also held in several towns across the UK as part of a nationwide day of action organised by the Peace Pledge Union. 

Campaigners said they held the protests to oppose Tory plans to further ramp up military spending at a time when public-sector workers are being refused pay increases in line with inflation and austerity looms. 

Speaking to the Morning Star, PPU campaigns manager Symon Hill said: “With so many people going on strike over their poverty pay, we want to make sure that people are aware that the UK has the fourth highest military spending in the world.

“The notion that there isn’t any money to tackle the cost-of-living crisis is not true.

“[Prime Minister] Rishi Sunak said he couldn’t pay NHS workers because he doesn’t have a magic wand. 

“Well I think we’ve found Rishi’s magic wand: it’s in the Ministry of Defence.”

He added: “They’re cutting lots of things but they’re happy to continue protecting the profits of arms dealers.”

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has been pushing for more defence spending ahead of March’s Budget, last week claiming more funding was needed in the long-term as the “world gets more dangerous.” 

In 2022, the defence budget stood at £46 billion, the second largest in Nato after the US, and is expected to grow to nearly £50bn this year. 

British army head Patrick Sanders has also called for the military to be given more tanks to replace those sent to Ukraine. 

But Mr Hill said the British public needs defending not from war, but from the cost-of-living crisis, austerity and poverty. 

“We know that people are dying in the UK because of poverty, because of cold,” he said.

“These are real deaths now, not hypothetical deaths from a future invasion or a future war.

“If ‘defence and security’ means anything, it should mean helping those people.”

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