MPs hit out at “mad” failure to safeguard defence

Troops withdrawing from Afghanistan
Troops withdrawing from Afghanistan
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Conservative rebels have united behind a demand the Government commits to a minimum two per cent defence budget.

A symbolic commons vote saw MPs call on ministers to back a NATO request that members spend at least two per cent of GDP on defence.

Tory Simon Reevell appeared to attack David Cameron on defence spending, describing the Prime Minister’s reported suggestion that intelligence service spending could count towards the 2% target as “kindergarten economics” that is “bad for politics”.

Mr Reevell said spending 0.7% of national income on aid while cutting the defence budget was “moon-howlingly mad”.

He said: “There are only two reasons not to spend money.

“The first is that you can’t afford to and the second is that you can afford to but you choose not to.

“We don’t seem shy of making spending contributions, we’ve just committed to spend 0.7% of our GDP on overseas aid.

“There’s not necessarily anything wrong with that but it would be moon-howlingly mad if we were committed to foreign aid at the expense of the defence of the realm.

“No one every suggested that swords are beaten into ploughshares before the danger is truly passed and passed for good.”

A vote on the motion saw 37 MPs endorsing a minimum spend policy, including 27 Conservative MPs.

Those backing the call include Yorkshire’s Anne McIntosh, Julian Sturdy and David Davis

Responding to the Commons vote, a Downing Street spokeswoman said: “These debates are an opportunity for MPs to give their views on important issues and, rightly, to debate and discuss them.

“The Prime Minister’s view is clear that it is the right thing to do to be spending 0.7% on overseas aid. The PM has been very clear that he wants to be sure we have a properly funded defence budget.”