UK government launches review into military procurement

28 February 2020

Military spending is set to be examined as part of the “largest review of the UK’s foreign, defence, security and development policy since the end of the Cold War”, the UK government has said. 

The review, which has been launched by prime minister Boris Johnson, forms part of plans by the government to “overhaul its approach to foreign policy”. 

Procurement processes used by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and intelligence services will be a major focus of the review, as well as how technology and data can be used effectively in defence. 

Johnson said: “I am determined to lead a government that delivers for our people – both at home and abroad. The UK’s institutions, expertise, leadership, and values are renowned around the world.

“But we cannot rest on our laurels. We must do more to adapt. We will be judged by how we respond to the opportunities ahead.”

In November 2019, Johnson pledged to launch a major review into defence and foreign policy as part of his General Election campaign, stating: “We must use money better.”

A spokesperson for the prime minister confirmed plans to hold a review to The Guardian last year. “As the PM announced during the election campaign, the government will undertake a new integrated foreign policy, security and defence review which will extend from the armed forces to the intelligence services, counter-terrorism, serious organised crime, diplomacy and development,” they said.

“This will ensure we are making the best use of spending to ensure all our security forces are ahead of hostile powers, terrorists and organised crime.”

Prior to the election, Johnson’s chief advisor Dominic Cummings criticised defence procurement, specifically the decision to spend £6.2bn building two aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy, which he said continued to “squander billions of pounds”.

The National Audit Office (NAO) has said the MoD’s 10-year Equipment Plan is “still unaffordable”.

In a report the NAO said costs would be £2.9bn higher than budgeted over 2019-29 – £183.6bn against a £180.7bn budget. In a worst-case scenario the gap could grow to £13bn.

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