Starmer says review needed to set timeline to reach 2.5% defence spending

Sir Keir Starmer has said he is committed to spending 2.5% of GDP on defence, but that he could not set a timeline to reach the target before carrying out a review.

He told journalists on the tarmac before he set off for the Nato summit in Washington that he was committed to 2.5% “within our fiscal rules”.

The Prime Minister said: “The most important thing is to, at this Nato summit, recommit to our solidarity with and stand with Ukraine and discuss the practical plans for further action we can take together in relation to Russian aggression.”

Support for Ukraine will be at the top of the agenda for the Washington summit.

Washington DC Nato summit
Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer speaks to media, at Stansted Airport (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Sir Keir added: “In relation to defence more generally, we will carry out our strategic review to look at the challenges, the capabilities, and on the back of that make further plans.

“I am committed to that 2.5% within our fiscal rules. That strategic review needs to come first. But today, tomorrow and the next day is all about standing together with our allies, discussing practically how we provide further support to Ukraine, and send a very, very clear message to Putin that we will stand against Russian aggression wherever it is in the world.”

The Government has an ambition to increase spending to 2.5% of gross domestic product, a measure of the size of the economy, when the nation’s finances allow.

But during the election campaign, Sir Keir was criticised by his Tory rival Rishi Sunak, who in Government had set out a plan to reach 2.5% by 2030.