Boris Johnson agrees £16bn rise in defence spending

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Announcement comes after ministers resisted spending extra money on free school meals in holidays

Boris Johnson has agreed a four-year £16.5bn surge in defence spending at a time when Britain’s public finances have been stretched by the pandemic and a day after it emerged that billions of pounds could be cut from the foreign aid budget.

Experts said the windfall represents the largest real-terms increase in the defence budget since Margaret Thatcher’s premiership and will be partly spent on a National Cyber Force of hackers and a new Space Command designed to protect orbiting satellites and launch its own rockets.

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