Comments follow warning by MPs that UK must raise spending to maintain US alliance
The UK is “living a lie” about its defence programme, which is unaffordable within current budgets, the former chief of defence staff has said, after a committee of MPs said Britain must raise spending in order to maintain its relationship with the US.
Lord Gen Nick Houghton, who was chief of defence staff until 2016, said the government had to make a tough choice between losing its global standing as a leading defence nation or increasing spending on defence.
His comments echoed the warning of the House of Commons defence committee, which published a report on Tuesday saying that without further investment UK forces would struggle to maintain “interoperability” with the US military, diminishing their usefulness as allies.
The UK defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, has mounted a public campaign for more funds, ahead of the autumn budget, warning Downing Street of the strength of feeling on the Conservative backbenches, though MPs have played down the risk of voting down the budget.
Houghton said David Cameron’s defence programme in 2015 had been ambitious but did not have the required funding to match it, because it had assumed continued growth and that the army could make efficiencies where it could not.