Sir Michael Fallon last night urged Theresa May to hike the British defence budget or risk a decline in national security.
In his first major intervention since he was forced to quit the Cabinet last year, the ex-defence secretary said the UK was on the verge of becoming a “bit-part world player” in its military might.
His bold intervention came amid a furious Cabinet row over defence spending and after the head of the army Nick Carter warned that the ability to defend against nations such as Russia was being “eroded”.
Sir Michael called for an immediate cash injection of £1bn for the defence budget this year and said the annual target should be hiked from the 2% of GDP recommended by Nato to 2.5%.
“Increased threats must mean a bigger defence budget. Our security is at stake,” he said in a speech to the Defence and Security Forum.
“If we’re happy to retreat from our vision of a confident, outward looking Global Britain standing up for our people, our values, our allies, then we will drift downwards to being a bit-part world player, a part-time champion of democracy and freedom.
“That would mean walking away from our international obligations, letting down our allies, and in the end leaving us less safe.”
Sir Michael quit the Cabinet last November with an admission that his behaviour to women had “fallen short”. He had been accused of making inappropriate advances towards a journalist around 15 years ago.
New Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has been urging Philip Hammond to boost UK defence spending but the Chancellor has so far refused to budge