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NHS and education face cuts as ‘reckless’ Starmer pushes for increased Nato spending

SIR KEIR STARMER’S “reckless” push for increased Nato spending will bring the world closer to war while deepening funding crises in Britain’s public services, anti-war campaigners warned today.

The Prime Minister was criticised for prioritising big business and the country’s “special relationship” with the US over the NHS, education and combating climate change.

Sir Keir pressed for European nations to increase defence spending as he insisted his administration would meet its pledge to increase it to 2.5 per cent of GDP before meeting with US President Joe Biden and other Nato leaders at a summit to mark the alliance’s 75th anniversary.

He said that decisions on reaching the target will follow a wholesale defence review being launched next week and must comply with the government’s strict “fiscal rules” on spending and borrowing.

Nato members have an official goal of spending 2 per cent of GDP on defence and 23 members are now thought to have reached that level.

Sir Keir however said more is needed to be done, particularly on locking in support for Ukraine and its president Volodymyr Zelensky, who is at the summit, given the prospect of Donald Trump returning to the White House in November.

The former US president has previously criticised Nato and threatened to reduce aid to Ukraine.

Sir Keir said: “On the question of how we show that commitment here at this summit, given there is going to be an election in America later this year, I think it’s very important at this summit, and I think there is a real opportunity for real unity.

“It’s the largest group of Nato countries, together with the additions that we’ve got, and the package that we are seeking to advance, it goes beyond the support that’s been put in before and will be locked in — I hope — at this Nato conference.”

There would be a financial package, military aid and an industrial strategy to support Ukraine, he indicated.

Sir Keir confirmed that decisions on the use of British-supplied long-range Storm Shadow missiles were for the Ukrainian armed forces to make, indicating they would be permitted to strike targets within Russia.

The US has previously supplied weapons to Ukraine on the condition that they are not used for this purpose, for fear of provoking retaliation.

Stop the War vice-chair Chris Nineham said: “Keir Starmer may have talked up ‘change’ during the general election campaign, but a video released on his first day in office included a message to Ukraine’s President Zelensky that a new government ‘makes no difference to the support you will see.’

“Clearly, he will use the Nato conference to stress continuity with the Tories’ disastrous foreign policy.

“To underline that point, Defence Secretary John Healey has announced a new arms deal with Zelensky, giving him millions of pounds’ worth of ammunition, artillery and ground attack missiles, despite Labour’s insistence on keeping the purse strings tight at home.”

Mr Nineham added that recent polling showed 44 per cent of British people backed fewer foreign policy interventions, suggesting that “Starmer’s position is all about holding on to the special relationship with the US, which is so important to big business and the wider establishment in Britain.

“This is dangerous foreign policy. Continued support for Israel and Ukraine will only push the world closer to wider war.”

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) chair Kate Hudson said it was no surprise Sir Keir has been following in the footsteps of his Tory predecessors by “talking the war talk, and prioritising military spending and nuclear weapons over the wellbeing of the people.”

She said his massive defence hike amounts to more than £87 billion spending per year “which will be paid for with cuts and underfunding elsewhere — money that should be spent on the NHS, our schools and fighting climate change.”

Ms Hudson welcomed the Defence Review as an “excellent idea” but said that “it needs to be founded on a new agenda for peace … not the same tired old government justifications for funding war, nuclear weapons — and ratcheting up global tensions that can lead to a third world war.”

A spokeswoman for Momentum said: “Let’s be clear. An increase in military spending means taking money away from health, security, jobs and the green transition.

“This would be a reckless decision which wouldn’t provide genuine security to the British people.”

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