As reported in The Sunday Telegraph:
PM risks looking silly on defence
David Cameron risks looking “pretty damn silly” if the defence budget is cut, David Davis, the former shadow home secretary, has warned amid a growing Tory rebellion over the future of Britain’s Armed Forces.
Mr Davis said the Prime Minister risked ridicule from his European counterparts after ordering them to meet the Nato threshold of 2 per cent of GDP.
If the Nato threshold is broken, Vladimir Putin will conclude Mr Cameron is “not serious” and become emboldened, he added.
There is growing disquiet among Britain’s allies and senior military officers at the Prime Minister’s refusal to commit to the 2 per cent target beyond 2016.
It has emerged that the Ministry of Defence is preparing for a flat settlement until 2020 – meaning that spending remains at £36billion annually. After inflation, it is a real-terms cut of up to 10 per cent.
It would mean defence spending as a percentage of GDP falling to 1.7 per cent by the end of the Parliament, below the level of Britain’s Nato allies such as Poland and Romania.
At least 35 MPs, the majority of whom are Tories, are backing a vote in Parliament to set the defence budget of 2 per cent in law, in a significant challenge to the Prime Minister just weeks ahead of the election.
Mr Davis said: “Not very long ago, David Cameron was laying down the law to the rest of Nato. We are going to look pretty damn silly if our Prime Minister says you are going to have to do 2 per cent and we don’t.”
The Conservative MP also said he feared Britain was losing its ability to undertake independent action.
He added: “If you are strong enough to do something, your enemies are taking a risk if they misbehave, and it’s true whether it is the Argentine president, the Russian president or our opponents in other parts of the world.”