Starmer’s Nuclear Pledge: 2.5% of GDP

Author Alexander Tatiev
Category Columnists, People, Town
Date April 15 2024
Reading Time 2 min.

Starmer’s Nuclear Pledge: 2.5% of GDP

Leader of the Labour Party Sir Keir Starmer has reiterated his unwavering support for the United Kingdom’s nuclear arsenal. In an article for the Daily Mail, Starmer reminded readers how the Labour government of 1945 not only established the National Health Service (NHS) but also initiated the independent British nuclear program, labelling these as monumental achievements of the party.

Starmer’s statement comes amid ongoing discussions about defence spending and strategic priorities. He announced plans to increase investments in the country’s military complex to 2.5% of GDP, significantly higher than the current 2.1%. However, neither the Labour Party nor the current government has defined specific timelines for financial commitments, making it contingent on economic conditions.

The debate over defence spending intensified following callswithin the government to accelerate funding for the military complex. Even conservative ministers Tom Tugendhat and Anne-Marie Trevelyan advocated for speeding up defence procurement and development, citing the evolving geopolitical landscape and persistent security threats.

However, not everyone supported Starmer’s position. Defence Secretary Grant Shapps expressed doubts about the Labour Party’s reliability in safeguarding the country’s defence interests. Shapps noted Starmer’s past collaboration with Jeremy Corbyn, who had repeatedly expressed opposition to Britain’s nuclear policy, skepticism towards NATO, and British intelligence. The minister accused Starmer of political opportunism, alleging that his rhetoric aimed to court voters ahead of upcoming elections rather than reflecting the genuine intentions of Labour.

The issue of nuclear weapons has repeatedly sparked disagreements within the Labour Party itself, especially during Corbyn’s leadership, when calls for unilateral disarmament and multilateral cooperation prevailed. But now Starmer invokes other historical figures of the party, such as Clement Attlee and Ernest Bevin, who played crucial roles in both establishing the NHS and developing Britain’s nuclear capabilities.

To reaffirm his commitment to strengthening national security, Starmer visited the BAE Systems shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness the center for building nuclear submarines in the UK. Less than a year ago, this shipyard received a government contract worth £4 billion to construct next-generation nuclear submarines. Among the workers, the Labour leader emphatically emphasised the commitment to building Dreadnought-class submarines, a vital means of sea deterrence, and acknowledged the importance of AUKUS (a trilateral security pact between the UK, US, and Australia aimed at countering China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific region) in bolstering Britain’s defence capabilities.

Critics, however, condemned Starmer’s pivot towards defence, particularly in light of pressing domestic issues. Momentum, a left-wing political group supportive of Corbyn, labeled such plans as profligate, asserting that resources should be directed towards social welfare and environmental initiatives. The Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party highlighted the lack of specificity and perceived contrived urgency in Labour’s proposals.

As debates over defence spending escalate, the United Kingdom finds itself at a crossroads, balancing national security imperatives with socio-economic priorities. And Starmer’s rhetoric clearly indicates his choice: the Labour leader aligns himself with nuclear escalation.