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Boris Johnson to announce 'Space Command' force in Scotland

Holyrood

Boris Johnson to announce 'Space Command' force in Scotland

Boris Johnson is set to announce a new ‘Space Command’ as part of a £16.5bn pledge to boost the UK’s defence capabilities.

The new programme will launch its first rockets from Scotland by 2022, Number 10 says.

The spending plans will also include a commitment to expand naval ship building on the Clyde, it is understood.

Johnson will make the announcements in a speech to the House of Commons on Thursday afternoon.

He is to give an update on the UK Government’s integrated review of foreign and defence policy, regarded as the biggest overhaul of the UK’s defence, diplomacy and international development capabilities since the end of the cold war.

Number 10 says the increase in funding over the next four years would ensure the UK remains the second highest defence spender in NATO.

Among other things, the spending will finance the building and development of warships on the Clyde, including a new Type 32 frigate.

Investment will also be made in research and development of new technologies including cybersecurity.

The integrated review began in 2019 and was meant to be completed by Autumn 2020.

Setbacks including the impact of COVID-19 on the UK’s finances have caused delay and the decision to scrap a planned multi-year spending plan for the MoD.

Aspects of the review have reportedly caused tensions in Johnson’s cabinet over issues such as a potential cut to international development spending as well as cuts to the army, including the possible dissolution of the Scottish Black Watch battalion.

On Tuesday the SNP published its submission to the review, which included calls to include Scotland more in matters of defence and foreign affairs.

It also called for the removal of nuclear weapons and giving the Scottish Government more access to UK consular and diplomatic services for its own agenda.

The SNP submission was dismissed by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace as “delusional” and “a pipe dream”.

Ahead of the speech, Johnson said: “Next year will be a year of British leadership, when we preside over the G7, host COP26 in Glasgow and celebrate the 75th anniversary of the of the first United Nations General Assembly.

“Britain must be true to our history and stand alongside our allies, sharing the burdens and bringing our expertise to bear on the world’s toughest problems.”

“The returns of this investment will go far beyond our Armed Forces, creating thousands of jobs, reinforcing the Union and levelling up our country.”

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