SIMI VALLEY, Calif. — The British Ministry of Defence will deliver a long-awaited report on the future of U.K. defense spending before the end of the year, the kingdom’s top defense official confirmed this weekend.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Reagan National Defense Forum on Saturday, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said the Modernising Defence Programme would be arriving at Parliament “before Christmas.”
He added that the report would be a “full” version, rather than an interim version as some had speculated.
The report was launched in late 2017, and a rollout had been expected over the summer. But the conclusions have been delayed amid ongoing negotiations with the European Union about Britain’s exit from the organization. In the meantime, the U.K. increased its budget by £1 billion (U.S. $1.27 billion) in October.
The review is expected to call for increased funding in innovation, science and technology, as well as spell out how the U.K. will move forward as a global power — something Williamson said is a major emphasis in a post-Brexit world.
“Over the last year, you’ve seen Britain taking a number of actions. We are the leading European nation in terms of NATO, what we’ve been doing in enhanced forward presence in the Baltic states,” Williamson said. “Effectively, Britain, the Royal Air Force, has acted as the air defense for good chunks of southern Europe this year. You’ve seen uplift in terms of troop numbers in Afghanistan, lots of examples where Britain will and has taken a role.
“Do we need to do more? I think we all accept that with the world becoming more uncertain, there has to be a willingness to take not just a diplomatic leadership, but also a military leadership.”
Williamson’s comments came as the U.K. selected an unexpected slate of new military leaders for top positions, with more senior officers being passed over in favor of what the government considers innovative leaders.
Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.