Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak ‘are at loggerheads over three-year funding package for the military’ as coronavirus crisis hammers government finances
- Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak said to be clashing over military budget plans
- PM wants a three-year settlement so defence and security review can go ahead
- Chancellor insisted financial situation too uncertain during coronavirus crisis
The Chancellor announced last week that the spending review was being pared back to a single year amid uncertainty about the government’s finances due to coronavirus.
But the PM is said to be pushing for the MoD to be made a special case so he can launched a defence and security review next month. Overhauling the government’s approach has been a long-term goal of No10 chief adviser Dominic Cummings.
According to the Sunday Times, Mr Sunak is ‘determined’ not to give in despite a series of meetings with Mr Johnson last week.
Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak (pictured left and right at a No10 press conference last week) are said to be wrestling over whether to hand the Ministry of Defence a three-year funding package amid the coronavirus crisis
Shocking figures last week revealed that the government has borrowed around £200billion since the crisis erupted, with fears of a grim reckoning of tax rises and austerity to come
‘Boris and Rishi have been having a row all week. Boris wants a three-year deal for defence. Rishi is absolutely determined not to give in,’ a Whitehall source said.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has been urging a budget increase so reforms can get under way.
The Tory manifesto promised defence spending would rise by 0.5 per cent above inflation each year, but that was before the pandemic hit.
Shocking figures last week revealed that the government has borrowed around £200billion since the crisis erupted, with fears of a grim reckoning of tax rises and austerity to come.
A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said: ‘In light of the decision to move to a one year spending review, we are considering the implications for the completion of the Integrated Review, and will provide an update in due course.’
The cancellation of the three-year review last week was seen as an admission that the Government needs to focus all of its energy on responding to Covid-19.
Mr Sunak was said to be arguing for downscaling a Tory manifesto pledge to spend an extra £100billion on infrastructure amid fears the UK can no longer afford to honour the commitment.
The commitment was made in the 2019 Tory manifesto with Mr Johnson describing the ‘New Deal’ spending plans as ‘positively Rooseveltian’ in a speech in July.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has been urging a budget increase so reforms can get under way