This week in Parliament, Boris Johnson published the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, described widely as the largest review of its kind since the end of the Cold War.
Its publication comes after a string of related announcements, and an inflated defence budget last year.
The Integrated Review announced a host of different defence measures including increased funding for cyber-security and artificial intelligence as well as further research and development. Related reports have shown the Review aims to “better understand and respond to the systemic challenge that China poses“, further highlighting the UK Government’s gearing up for a new Cold War with the Asian Superpower. In Parliament, Boris Johnson said the UK would have to “relearn the art” of competing against countries with “opposing values“, referencing the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.
Almost laughably, the Integrated Review announced that, “tackling climate change and biodiversity loss is to be the government’s highest international priority“. Even for Johnson, this neoliberal imperialism with a green edge is a little too ‘on the nose‘.
Despite the announcement for further research into ‘new‘ technologies, the Integrated Review also announced that the UK is also to expand its nuclear arsenal reversing previous decisions to reduce the country’s stockpiles.
In May 2010, the Labour Government announced it was to reduce the nuclear weapons stockpile to 225. Then, in October 2010, David Cameron’s Government announced plans to further reduce the number of warheads to 180, with 120 available at any one time. Still more than enough to destroy the planet several times over, but a reduction nonetheless.
Johnson’s Government, however, are now seeking to increase the nuclear stockpile to 260. The Review states the desire to reduce the nuclear stockpile is “no longer possible” given the “evolving security environment over the last decade.“
Almost in the same breath as denying anything more than a measly 1% pay rise for nurses, Johnson has made it clear that his Government is able to find extra money when it suits them. Kate Hudson, General Secretary of CND, said “with the government strapped for cash, we don’t need grandiose, money wasting spending on weapons of mass destruction.” As ever, the Government only sees itself as “strapped for cash“, when it comes to public sector payouts.
Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, argued the opposite and accused the Government of overseeing an “era of retreat,” with military budgets being cut “every year for the last decade“. In addition, he said the UK Government had “turned a blind eye” to China’s human rights abuses and said Labour, as with the UK Government, was committed to retaining nuclear weapons. His comments act as a further example of how far and fast the Labour Party have fallen under his leadership.
Meanwhile, General Secretary of the YCL, Johnnie Hunter, on Wednesday said that the increased number of nuclear warheads would “would make the world a more dangerous place and is a slap in the face to the nurses who are being told there’s no money to pay them more“.