The New Statesman’s rolling politics blog

RSS

Why does UKIP oppose defence cuts if it wants to end "foreign wars"?

The party opposes intervention in Syria and elsewhere but still wants to increase the defence budget by £17.4bn to £50bn.

While it remains to be seen what position Labour will take on military action Syria once the UN weapons inspectors have reported, one party has already declared its unconditional opposition to intervention: UKIP. 

Farage's men have sent out a van emblazoned with the words: "UKIP says NO to war in Syria. Stop defence cuts at home, fighting foreign wars and causing misery abroad". In response, the Economist's Daniel Knowles asks, "Given that Ukip are so keen that we shouldn't get involved in foreign wars, why do they want to stop defence cuts?" It's a good question.

The defence section on the party's website states that it wants to increase total spendng to £50bn in 2016, £17.4bn more than planned by the government (£32.6bn). But with the party pledged to disband the Ministry of Defence "in order to reform it as a streamlined ministry", cancel the replacement of Trident and remove foreign military aid (£4bn) from the budget, what does it intend to spend the inflated sum on? 

It promises "an initial 5 year capital expenditure programme" of £10 bn to restore "threatened items including army manpower, armour, fighters, advanced surveillance platforms, the second aircraft carrier and major surface combat vessels", which seems rather extravagant if there's little prospect of them being used (at least in the absence of an invasion of Gibraltar or the Falklands). 

Unless UKIP knows something we don't. Is an EU rebel force heading across the Channel? We should be told.