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Stop arms race, campaigners tell politicians

ANTI-WAR campaigners demanded a stop to the new arms race today, after Tories and Labour united in support of boosting military spending to 2.5 per cent of gross domestic product.

The Establishment embraced a new spasm of militarisation as PM Rishi Sunak announced in Warsaw that Britain would crank up its arms bill to the new target by the end of the decade.

This would put an “additional £75 billion into defence spending over that period,” Defence Secretary Grant Shapps told MPs.

Mr Shapps claimed a “much more dangerous world” made the commitment necessary, citing alleged threats from Russia, Iran and China.

Both he and Mr Sunak spoke of the arms industry going onto a “war footing” and urged all Nato member states to match Britain’s new target.

The extra spending is to be funded in part by cutting Civil Service jobs, according to government plans.

Labour broadly welcomed the Tory proposal, expressing scepticism about the government’s capacity to fund its commitments.

“Labour will always do what is required, spend what is required, on defence” shadow defence secretary John Healey assured the Commons.

Both parties are out of line with public opinion on the issue. 

An Opinium poll released today revealed more military spending ranked last out of nine priorities for voters, with the NHS being first.

Stop the War Coalition convener Lindsey German pointed out that “the UK already spends over 2 per cent of our total GDP on arms, the highest in Europe.”

She said: “It’s incredible that, when our public services and infrastructure are in crisis, starved of funds, our schools and hospitals crumbling, homelessness soaring, that both the government and the opposition are committing only to spending more on arms.

“The increase in military spending, the provision of new and ever-more deadly weapons to Israel, and the increasingly belligerent language surrounding the new cold war with China, are only fuelling the prospect of more and widening wars, not containing them.”

CND general secretary Kate Hudson said:  “A new arms race is well and truly on.

“Britain is among those that are committed to wasting billions of pounds on weapons and war while the people’s living standards and public services continue to deteriorate.

“Increased military spending won’t make us any safer — it generates billions of pounds for arms companies and fuels more war and more killing.

“We demand that our money is spent instead on better services, climate protection and  promoting peace.”

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