By Rishi Sunak
Sixty years ago, here in San Diego, president Kennedy spoke of: “A higher purpose – the maintenance of freedom, peace and…security”. [Today], March 13, we stand together, united by that same purpose. And recognising that to fulfil it we must forge new kinds of relationships to meet new kinds of challenge – just as we have always done.
In the last 18 months, the challenges we face have only grown. Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine… China’s growing assertiveness… The destabilising behaviour of Iran and North Korea… all threaten to create a world defined by danger, disorder, and division.
Faced with this new reality, it is more important than ever that we strengthen the resilience of our own countries.
That’s why the UK is today announcing a significant uplift in our defence budget.
We’re providing an extra £5 billion over the next two years, immediately increasing our defence budget to around 2.25 percent of GDP.
This will allow us to replenish our war stocks. And modernise our nuclear enterprise, delivering AUKUS and strengthening our deterrent.
Our highest priority is to continue providing military aid to Ukraine, because their security is our security. And we will go further to strengthen our resilience.
For the first time, the United Kingdom will move away from our baseline commitment to spend 2 percent of GDP on defence to a new ambition of 2.5 percent.
Putting beyond doubt that the United Kingdom is – and will remain – one of the world’s leading defence powers.
But ultimately, the defence of our values depends, as it always has on the quality of our relationships with others.
Those alliances will be strengthened through AUKUS the most significant multilateral defence partnership in generations.
AUKUS matches our enduring commitment to freedom and democracy with the most advanced military, scientific, and technological capability. Nowhere is that clearer than in the plans we’re unveiling today for the new Aukus submarine.
One of the most advanced nuclear-powered subs the world has ever known. Those plans could not happen without cutting-edge American technology and expertise so I pay tribute to you, president, for your leadership. And to you, prime minister, for your vision of what Aukus can achieve.
For our part, the UK comes to this with over 60-years’ experience of running our own fleet. We’ll provide the world-leading design, and build the first of these new boats, creating thousands of good, well-paid jobs in places like Barrow and Derby. And we will share our knowledge and experience with Australian engineers so they can build their own fleet.
Our partnership is significant not just because we are building these submarines together. They will also be truly interoperable.
The Royal Navy will operate the same submarines as the Australian Navy. We will both share components and parts with the US Navy. Our submarine crews will train together, patrol together, and maintain their boats together.
They will communicate using the same terminology and the same equipment. And through AUKUS, we will raise our standards of nuclear non-proliferation. This is a powerful partnership.
For the first time, it will mean three fleets of submarines working together across both the Atlantic and Pacific. Keeping our oceans free, open, and prosperous for decades to come.
We represent three allies who have stood shoulder-to-shoulder together for more than a century. Three people who have shed blood together in defence of our shared values. And three democracies that are coming together again, to fulfil that higher purpose of maintaining freedom, peace, and security. Now and for generations to come.