What would UK rearmament cost?

A rough estimate of what 3% and 6% spending looks like

Paul Mason
4 min readMar 16, 2024
Grant Shapps en route from visiting troops in Poland. © MOD Credit: Cpl Tim Hammond

In the past week, Conservative government figures engaged with Defence have started to float a significant increase in spending. Anne-Marie Trevelyan and Tom Tugendhat (Indo-Pacific and Security ministers) called for the government to enact its 2.5%/GDP “aspiration” quickly. Grant Shapps, the Defence Secretary, upped this to 3% “when conditions allow”.

Let’s remember that, for a whole two years after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine the Tories have made zero moves to rearm Britain.

But if they are now going to do something, we should seek cross-party agreement around capabilities that match:

  • A challengeable public threat assessment over 3–10 years (as with Labour’s promised SDSR).
  • A strategic political determination of Britain’s military role in/contribution to NATO.

As we do so, we need to start talking less about percentages of GDP, and more about three things: cash, industrial strategy and fiscal multipliers.

In this post — the first of a series arising out of research I am doing for an upcoming report — I will focus on the cash amounts only. Doing so allows us to think concretely about the different pathways to rearmament, of which there are…



Paul Mason

Journalist, writer and film-maker. Author of How To Stop Fascism.