U.K. Defense Spending to Rise After 2015 Election, Official Says

Prime Minister David Cameron intends to maintain his 2010 commitment to raise defense spending by more than the rate of inflation if his Conservative Party wins power in 2015, a senior government official said.

His spokeswoman Vickie Sheriff declined to repeat the premier’s pledge when asked earlier today. The official subsequently told reporters it remained policy, attributing speculation to officials’ infighting.

The jousting stems from cuts in the defense budget that followed 2010 negotiations that sparked open conflict between the military and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne’s Treasury.

After Cameron entered office in May 2010 the U.K. conducted a Strategic Defense and Security Review into its future military capability, while at the same time cutting the defense ministry’s overall budget and narrowing a 74 billion-pound ($117 billion) deficit.

By 2014-15, the defense ministry’s budget will be 33.5 billion pounds, 8 percent lower than in 2010, before the review. Announcing the cuts to military programs in October 2010 Cameron said, “my own strong view is that this structure will require year on year real-terms growth in the defense budget in the years beyond 2015.”

The official said today the challenges facing the military hadn’t changed since the 2010 spending review, and that current overseas commitments were within the levels planned.

Following further cuts of about 500 million pounds announced to the defense ministry’s budget in December, Defense Secretary Philip Hammond is fighting to establish his starting point for the next budget round.

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