Liz Truss has vowed to bolster Britain’s defences if she is made prime minister, including by pushing ahead with renewing Trident, as she warned “the era of complacency is over”.
The Foreign Secretary, the frontrunner in the race for No 10, has already pledged to boost defence spending to 3% of GDP by 2030 – a promise her rival Rishi Sunak has refused to match because he says he does not believe in “arbitrary targets” when it comes to security.
The Truss campaign has now set out her plan to “protect the UK”, including a “full renewal” of the nuclear deterrent, an update to the Government’s Integrated Review, and strengthened support for intelligence services.
Ms Truss said her “number one priority” as PM would be to keep the nation safe.
“We thought that peace and stability were inevitable – but they aren’t,” she said.
“The era of complacency is over. We are living in an increasingly dangerous world and our security is under more threat than it has been in decades.
“We need to make sure that Britain has the deterrents it needs to lead the global efforts to tackle aggression from the likes of Russia and other authoritarian regimes.”
The Foreign Secretary would see through the renewal of Britain’s nuclear deterrent, which is “the ultimate guarantee of our sovereignty”, her campaign said.
She would also update the Integrated Review of defence and foreign policy to “reflect the evolving geopolitical landscape and increased malevolent activity that we have seen since it was first published in 2021”.
Ms Truss said the country must rise to a “generation-defining moment for freedom, security and liberty”.
She added: “We simply cannot allow aggressors to think they will go unchallenged.”
Mr Sunak has said he views the Nato defence spending target of 2% of GDP as a “floor and not a ceiling” and noted that spending is set to rise to 2.5% “over time”, but has refused to set “arbitrary” goals.
Speaking at the penultimate leadership hustings in Norwich on Thursday, he said: “If Liz is here, as she probably said in her speech, she will invest 3% of GDP.
“Now, I’m not going to say that, not because I don’t believe in investing in our armed forces, of course I do, and my record demonstrates that.
“It’s just I don’t believe in arbitrary targets when it comes to something as serious as the security of our realm.”