One of Britain’s biggest labor unions has warned a huge chunk of the UK’s defense budget will soon go straight to the US. As much as a quarter of Britain’s military funds will be used to support jobs based in America by 2020.
The revelation came as Unite the Union, one of Britain’s largest trade unions, attended Tuesday’s Defence Select Committee hearing to discuss the restructuring of defense giant BAE Systems and the jobs of 1,900 UK workers. Unite has resisted planned redundancies across the sector.
Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner spoke before the hearing to express the union’s dismay.
“By 2020, nearly 25p in every pound of defense spending will go to supporting jobs in US factories rather than here in the UK. It is self-defeating,” he said.
“Not only does it undermine the UK’s sovereign defense capability; it also undermines the government’s desire to have a joined up industrial strategy.
“The UK Government should be backing Britain’s world class defense workers by spending the defense budget here in the UK and investing in world beating projects such as the advanced Hawk program. A failure to do so will result in the defense of the realm being outsourced to overseas nations and our defense being subject to the whim of foreign powers and corporations.”
The Advanced Hawk is the future of BAE System’s jet training aircraft, building on previous models to become one of the most advanced fast jet training aircraft in the world.
The committee hearing comes as the Conservative Party quarrels over defense spending. Further defense cuts could be on the cards, despite the defense committee warning spending is already dangerously low and seen by the government as a low priority.
Defense select committee chair Julian Lewis warned on Sunday about the impact of the cuts. Writing to the Guardian, the senior Tory politician said the UK is “barely achieving” the NATO target of spending two percent of GDP on defense.
“We now spend six times on welfare, two and a half times on education and nearly four times on health, what we spend on defense,” he said. “Setting ourselves a spending target of 3 percent of GDP for defense would not by itself guarantee our security, but without such an increase there is no prospect of recruiting personnel and buying equipment on a scale sufficient to avoid the ‘hollowing-out’ of our armed forces.”