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Grant Shapps has said the UK “can’t afford not to” boost defence spending and wants to increase it to 3 per cent of GDP.

Writing in The Times, the Transport Secretary said: “Freedom is not free. That is why, as prime minister, I will raise defence spending to 3pc of GDP, in contrast to Nato’s recommended minimum of 2pc.”

Boris Johnson recently committed to increasing defence spending to 2.5pc of GDP by the end of the decade after a Cabinet row over the issue.

But this is not enough to prevent Britain from falling behind other Nato countries in the spending league table, including Poland and Lithuania, which have increased their military budgets following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, according to Mr Hunt.

Mr Shapps pointed to the kit limitations of the Navy and the RAF, adding: “The Army is shrinking in manpower, artillery and armour. Quality is vital, but quantity has a quality all of its own.”

“The defence of the realm is the first duty of Her Majesty’s Government. Can we afford to spend more money on this core responsibility? The answer is, we can’t afford not to.”

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