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Speed data: Britain’s diminishing armed forces

The share of national income devoted to defence has dropped by four-fifths since 1953

By Prospect Team   August 2018

UK services personnel, 1954-2018. The forces have been shrinking for decades

After Theresa May’s £20bn “birthday present” for the NHS, defence secretary Gavin Williamson was mocked for claiming he could “break her” if she didn’t find £20bn for the armed services too. Behind the macho posturing, there is concern in military circles about the depth of retrenchment. It is not new: personnel numbers have been falling ever since the Korean War as spending has been squeezed. The share of national income devoted to defence has dropped by four-fifths…

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