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Foreign Policy Foreign Policy

Maintain the ability to conduct strike or peacekeeping operations

Last updated: 10:48am 13 September 2019

We will […] maintain the ability to conduct strike operations, peacekeeping, security missions and the deployment of a joint expeditionary force.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.41

Our verdict

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.

In January 2019, the Henry Jackson Society published its Audit of Geopolitical Capability, which puts the UK in third place in terms of “military might”, behind only the United States and Russia.

The Global Firepower organisation ranks the UK eighth in terms of military strength on its 2019 Firepower Index.

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’.

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