The UK needs strong defence in these turbulent times

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

Britain is spending two per cent of its national income on defence, which meets the Nato target for spending by member states.

The Strategic Defence and Security Review has detailed how some of this money will be spent.

Meanwhile, the UK is one of the few countries in the world to spend 0.7 per cent of its GDP on foreign aid. This is a prudent combination – strong defence, alongside generosity overseas – in a turbulent world in which random atrocities are happening with alarming frequency, and in which large, terrified populations are being displaced. It is a better spend of taxpayer cash than allowing some families to earn more than £26,000 a year (£34k before tax) on benefits.

Yesterday details of this defence budget were unveiled, including funding for 1,900 more spies. While the bulk of these will rightly be monitoring the biggest threat in the UK, Islamic mass murderers, some cash should go to intelligence operatives who are working day and night to combat our own murdering terrorists in Northern Ireland. Similarly the increased spend on the SAS must be deployed without hesitation in the Province if the situation requires it.

This is the part of the UK where even the moderate nationalist party – the SDLP – has engaged in publicity stunts outside Palace Barracks in Holywood, denouncing what they describe as ‘spooks’ in MI5 headquarters.

Fortunately, the main political parties in London have ignored such nonsense (or did before Jeremy Corbyn).

However, if a would-be dissident murderer was endangering lives, our security forces might be understandably reticent in their response, given the forensic examination that their every move gets here. They ought to be allowed to react with the lethal force that even senior Labour Party figures are making clear they would support in the situation of an Islamic attack in Great Britain (contradicting their leader, Mr Corbyn).

Britain needs strong defence to combat external threats, but also internal ones in the UK, including in Northern Ireland.