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British prime minister to boost defense spending by $22B

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking at House of Commons on October 14. Johnson said he is increasing military spending over the next four years. Photo by Jessica Taylor/EPA-EFE/British Parliament
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaking at House of Commons on October 14. Johnson said he is increasing military spending over the next four years. Photo by Jessica Taylor/EPA-EFE/British Parliament

Nov. 19 (UPI) -- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the House of Commons Thursday the government will increase defense spending to make it the"foremost naval power" in Europe, saying the world is "perilous."

The announcement was part of Johnson unveiling his government's new budget with a $21.82 billion increase above its previous commitment over four years.

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The government had already committed to spending 0.5% above inflation on defense over the next four years.

"I have taken this decision in the teeth of the pandemic because the defense of the realm must come first," Johnson said. "The international situation is more perilous and more intensely competitive than at any time since the Cold War and Britain must be true to our history and stand alongside our allies."

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The budget addresses Britain's military capability against "evolving threats" while creating 10,000 jobs annually across the country.

"To achieve this we need to upgrade our capabilities across the board," Johnson said. "This is our chance to end the era of retreat, transform our armed forces, bolster our global influence, unite and level up our country, pioneer new technology and defend our people and way of life."

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Johnson said future challenges will come not just on the battlefield, but through the Internet, and the increase in funding will allow Britain to better defend itself against cyberthreats.

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"Our enemies are also operating in increasingly sophisticated ways, including in cyberspace, to further their own interests," a statement from Johnson's office said. "Rather than being confined to some distant battlefield, those that seek to do harm to our people can reach them through the mobile phones in their pockets or the computers in their homes."

Labor Leader Keir Starmer questioned how Johnson planned the pay for the increased defense spending, suggesting it could come in increased taxes, borrowing and at the expense of other departments.

Starmer also complained Johnson's plan comes without a "clear strategy or a coherent vision for Britain in the world."

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