Politically Speaking: Wakefield MP Imran Ahmad Khan says defence investment of £16.5 billion is needed

In this week's column, Wakefield MP Imran Ahmad Khan discusses the Prime Minister's decision to invest in British defence.

Friday, 27th November 2020, 6:02 pm
Updated Friday, 27th November 2020, 6:06 pm
In this week's column, Wakefield MP Imran Ahmad Khan discusses the Prime Minister's decision to invest in British defence.

Last week the prime minister announced the largest programme of investment in British defence since the end of the Cold War.

The £16.5 billion increase in funding over a four-year period is well over the 2019 Conservative manifesto pledge and will spark the rejuvenation and modernisation of our armed forces.

This is a welcome move and we must not be ashamed or timid as a nation, in committing to such a bold increase in defence spending that commits to protecting these fair isles. We now live in a world far more uncertain and far more competitive.

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In order to defend ourselves, our allies and those most vulnerable from threats wherever they may be encountered, we must ensure that our armed forces’ capabilities are upgraded.

This new budget will have significant benefits not only to our armed forces, but to bolstering our global image, help in creating new technology, and revolutionise the way we live our lives.

It stands to have huge benefits to the entire economy of the United Kingdom and will help level up regions long felt left behind.

For Wakefield, and the entirety of West Yorkshire, the new budget increase provides opportunities to make meaningful, tangible change to people’s lives, whether that be through the creation of 10,000 new jobs, the use of new technology in business operations or the formation of entirely new industries.

At this time of economic hardship and uncertainty, I am sympathetic to those concerned by this increase in spending, but I am adamant it is the right decision.

This is but one part of the levelling-up agenda that will tangibly benefit Wakefield. Wakefield is already a reservoir of talent for our armed forces, with over 4,000 veterans across the district.

Throughout the pandemic, we have seen the utility and unrivalled logistical talents of our armed forces. It is my belief that we should seek to double-down on our investment in them, not least because ex-services personnel, when they re-enter civilian life, greatly enrich our economy with their first-class education, discipline and skill sets.

Whether through immediate job creation or more longsighted technological developments, these benefits should not be understated. As we emerge from the crisis of the Coronavirus pandemic, ensuring that our economy can recover and rebuild in a way that ensures long-term prosperity is vital. Such funding does exactly that.

This pandemic has brought into sharp relief some dire disparities between the north and the south of England. More investment, not only into our defence and armed forces, is required, in our schools, our industry and our infrastructure.

To that end, alongside other northern Conservative colleagues, I am working closely with Jake Berry and the Northern Research Group to ensure that transformative measures promised to the north of England will actually materialise.

The government is listening, is acting, and the NRG will continue to track progress and ensure policy implementation is effective.

To everybody in Wakefield, rest assured I am holding the government’s feet to the fire to ensure that we see meaningful change.