The manifesto contains multiple specific commitments about defence. This one is a broader promise to ensure the UK has a fully operational military capability. Any measure of national military strength will always be relative: ten soldiers with sticks are of little use in a war if opposing countries each have 40 soldiers with guns! Therefore, in assessing this policy we’re looking at how the UK compares with other military powers.
The most significant contribution government can make to maintaining these levels of “military might” and “strength” is expenditure on defence. Full Fact found that the UK ranks either sixth or seventh in terms of its defence budget, according to two respected international institutes. The government’s own figures show that in 2018 the UK was one of only five NATO member states to meet the target of 2% of gross domestic produce (GDP) spent on defence.
Independent observers rank the UK as one of the most powerful military nations, and government spending on defence remains higher than most countries as a percentage of GDP. We think there is good evidence that the government has maintained its armed forces capabilities as outlined in this pledge. This policy is ‘done’.
- Audit of Geopolitical Capability – Henry Jackson Society
- 2019 Firepower Index – Global Firepower
- UK Defence Expenditure – Parliament.uk
- Does the UK have the world’s third most powerful military? – Full Fact
- Reality Check: What’s happening to defence spending – BBC
- NATO contributions country-by-country – Euronews
- UK defence in Numbers – Gov.uk
- The US and UK in NATO – Parliament.uk
- Indispensable allies: US, NATO and UK Defence relations – Parliament.uk
- NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence – NATO