Rishi Sunak unveils £5bn extra defence spending ahead of Aukus summit in US – UK politics live | Politics

Key events

Dan Sabbagh, the Guardian’s defence editor, has written an analysis of the defence spending announcement (see 9.24am) and the integrated review update. Here is an extract.

China, previously “a systemic competitor” – a phrase generally useful, if unmemorable – has upgraded to presenting an “epoch-defining challenge” – as a nod to the Conservative backbenchers who had wanted Beijing to be designated as a threat, similar to that used to describe Russia.

This, in fact, was Truss’s reason for reopening the integrated review, to make such an aggressive re-designation that would only have further inflamed already fraught relations with Beijing. Epoch-defining is a large notion, not least because epochs tend to be very long, while integrated reviews emerge every two years, and if Labour wins, the party is likely to want to refocus on Russia, if that is, the US allows them.

Nevertheless “epoch-defining” also suggests the world is becoming a different kind of unsafe place. Islamist fundamentalism is in retreat, fallen sharply after the territorial defeat of Islamic State and the killing of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In its place is a rapprochement between Russia and China, state actors with larger budgets, more weaponry and sophisticated tools at their disposal.

This thinking underlies Sunak’s announcement to recommit to a target of lifting defence spending to 2.5% of GDP “in the longer term”, similar to what was announced by Johnson at the last Nato summit in June, one of his last acts before his premiership collapsed. Johnson, however, put a target date – 2030 – on when the pledge would be met, and Sunak hasn’t.

And here is the full article.

HSBC to buy Silicon Valley Bank UK for £1 in government rescue deal

The government has struck a last-minute deal for HSBC to buy Silicon Valley Bank’s UK operations, saving thousands of British tech startups and investors from big losses after the biggest bank failure since 2008, my colleague Kalyeena Makortoff reports.

My colleague Graeme Wearden has more coverage on his business live blog.

Gary Lineker to return to TV, with BBC expected to issue some form of apology to him, Sky claims

According to Rob Harris from Sky News, Gary Lineker will return to his Match of the Day presenting job on the BBC. Harris also claims that Lineker will get some sort of apology from the BBC.

Breaking: Gary Lineker to return to presenting on the BBC, @SkyNews understands.
Some form of apology expected from the BBC.

— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) March 13, 2023

Lineker was taken off air at the weekend, prompting many of his football presenter colleagues to stage what was in effect a mini strike in sympathy, after a tweet criticising the government’s illegal migration bill prompted Tory fury, and claims he had breached BBC impartiality guidelines.

Rishi Sunak unveils £5bn extra defence spending ahead of Aukus summit in US

Good morning. Rishi Sunak is in San Diego in California where today he will meet Joe Biden, the US president, and Anthony Albanese, the Australian prime minister, for an Aukus meeting. Aukus is the Australia/US/UK security pact, primarily focused on providing Australia with nuclear-powered submarine. It was set up when Boris Johnson was prime minister, and now provides him with the material for one of his most over-used jokes.

The meeting will coincide with the publication of the government’s update (or “refresh”, as it is offically called) to the integrated review of security, defence, development and foreign policy first published in 2021. Liz Trus ordered the update during her short-lived premiership, because she wanted it to take a tougher line on China. IR23, as the “refresh” is also called by No 10, will be published this afternoon.

Overnight Sunak announced that the defence will get an extra £5bn over the next two years as part of the review, and that the government is committing to raising defence spending to 2.5% of GDP “in the longer term”. In a news release No 10 says:

The 2023 integrated review refresh [IR23] confirms that an additional £5bn will be provided to the Ministry of Defence over the next two years, to help replenish and bolster vital ammunition stocks, modernise the UK’s nuclear enterprise and fund the next phase of the AUKUS submarine programme. It follows a £24bn four-year uplift in defence spending in 2020, the largest sustained increase since the Cold War.

The prime minister will also set out an ambition to increase defence spending to 2.5% of GDP in the longer term, and the UK will lead a conversation with Allies on future posture and burden sharing at the NATO Summit in Lithuania this summer. We will review defence spending after 2025 in light of this ambition.

As my colleague Aubrey Allegretti reports, Conservative MPs are particularly interested in what IR23 will say about China and, speaking to reporters on his flight to California, Rishi Sunak said it was too simplisitic just to categorise China as a “threat” (which is what China hawks in his party want). Sunak said:

I don’t think it’s kind of smart or sophisticated foreign policy to reduce our relationship with China – which after all is a country with one and a half billion people, the second biggest economy, and member of the UN security council – to just two words.

That’s why in the integrated review you will see a very thoughtful and detailed approach to China …

I think [China] presents an epoch defining challenge to us and to the global order.

Aubrey’s full story is here.

Here is the agenda for the day.

Morning: Keir Starmer is doing a visit ahead of the budget on Wednesday.

11.30am: Downing Street holds a lobby briefing.

2.30pm: Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, takes questions in the Commons.

After 3.30pm: James Cleverly, the foreign secretary, is due to make a Commons statement about the integrated review refresh.

Around 3.30pm UK time: Rishi Sunak records a series of broadcast interviews in San Diego.

After 5.30pm: MPs start the second reading debate for the illegal migration bill.

7.30pm: Sunak meets Joe Biden, the US president, and Anthony Albanese, the Australian PM, at the Aukus meeting. Sunak will also have a bilateral meeting with Biden.

8pm: Sky News hosts a debate for the SNP leadership candidates.

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Rishi Sunak speaking to reporters on his flight to California last night.
Rishi Sunak speaking to reporters on his flight to California last night. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/AP

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