Defence Secretary hails Cummings support for armed forces settlement

Ben Wallace said the PM’s aide had backed boosting defence spending before his recent exit.

Dominic Cummings
Dominic Cummings

The Defence Secretary has praised the Prime Minister’s outgoing aide Dominic Cummings for his part in securing a bumper funding package for the armed forces.

Boris Johnson last week set out a £16.5 billion increase in defence spending over four years as he said the UK faced a “perilous” period for global security.

Mr Cummings, the Prime Minister’s de facto chief of staff, left Downing Street before the announcement was made but had reportedly been playing a major role in the ongoing integrated review on defence and foreign policy prior to his exit earlier this month.

According to Downing Street, the Vote Leave campaigner is currently working from home on projects until his tenure formally ends in mid-December.

Giving evidence to MPs on Tuesday, Mr Wallace heralded Mr Cummings, who previously criticised the UK’s military procurement efforts in a personal blog before being appointed by Mr Johnson, for his support of the defence settlement, which is set to modernise the armed forces.

Mr Johnson has vouched that the UK, with the extra funding, will once again become Europe’s leading naval power, promised the RAF new hi-tech jets and vowed to create a “space command” capable of launching the UK’s first rocket by 2022.

Mr Wallace told the Commons Defence Committee: “What I will say is that Dominic Cummings was actually a big supporter of this defence settlement and that shouldn’t be underestimated.

“A number of people recognise this is an anxious time in the future stability of the globe and he was a supporter, alongside a number of others in Number 10, of giving defence a settlement.”

Wallace Cummings
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

But the Cabinet minister stressed his department was the “author of our part of the integrated review” even when Mr Cummings was in Downing Street day-to-day.

The final conclusions of the review are set to be unveiled in 2021, having originally been due in the current calendar year.

Asked by the committee how things had changed since the aide left Downing Street, Mr Wallace said: “What do you mean? Dominic Cummings is an aide to the Prime Minister.

“In the MoD, nothing has changed. I have led the department, the defence staff responsible for the military staff, the permanent secretary.

“Nothing has changed in that. The MoD was the author of our part of the integrated review work, author of our budget.”

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