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09 May 2024

Cameron to call for Nato to set 2.5% defence spending target

09 May 2024

Nato countries should agree to spend 2.5% of GDP on defence, at an upcoming summit in Washington, the Foreign Secretary will urge on Thursday.

In his first major speech as Foreign Secretary, Lord Cameron will call on Britain and its allies to “out-compete, out-cooperate and out-innovate” their adversaries in an ongoing “battle of wills”.

Lord Cameron will say July’s summit “must see all allies on track” to meet the commitment set out in 2014 to spend 2% of GDP on defence, and then “move quickly to establish 2.5% as the new benchmark for all Nato allies”.

According to Nato, two-thirds of the alliance’s 32 members expected to meet or exceed the 2% target in 2024, up from 11 in 2023.

Last year only five Nato states, Poland, the US, Greece, Estonia and Lithuania, spent more than 2.5% of their GDP on defence, something the UK has pledged to do by the end of the decade.

In his speech, Lord Cameron is also expected to criticise some of Britain’s allies for not doing enough on defence, saying Nato needs to “adopt a harder edge for a tougher world”.

He will say: “If Putin’s illegal invasion teaches us anything, it must be that doing too little, too late, only spurs an aggressor on.

“I see too many examples in this job of this lesson not having been learnt.

“Take the Red Sea, where ship after ship has been attacked. While many countries have criticised the Houthi attacks, it is only the US and Britain that have been willing and able to step up and strike back at them.”

He is also expected to cite some European countries’ apparent unwillingness to invest in defence “even as war rages on our continent”, and say others are “so cowed by accusations of colonialism that they will not condemn practices like female genital mutilation”.

The speech, to be delivered at the National Cyber Security Centre, is one of two interventions the Foreign Secretary is expected to make on Thursday, going on to address the Lord Mayor’s Easter Banquet at Mansion House in the City of London.

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