The government has decided to spend less on welfare and more on national security, defence secretary Michael Fallon said on Monday.
The government has always insisted it would maintain 2% of GDP spending on defence, and chancellor George Osborne has said he wanted to transform Britain's economy into a "high wage, low tax, lower welfare." But Fallon's remarks during an radio interview mark the first time a government minister has laid out so clearly how welfare has dropped as a priority.
Speaking on Radio 5 Live, he said: "We're spending more on defence and we've chosen to do that as a government – to spend less on some things like the welfare system and to spend more on things that really matter to keep our country safe".
His comments came as prime minister David Cameron prepared to announce the results of the Strategic Defence and Security Review, which will see the UK increase the equipment budget by £12 billion.
Fallon spent Monday morning speaking to media outlets about the UK government's plans for military action in Syria. Cameron is expected to give MPs his proposals for bombing ISIS in Syria in the coming days.
In a report published earlier this month, the Commons foreign affairs committee said: "We believe that there should be no extension of British military action into Syria unless there is a coherent international strategy that has a realistic chance of defeating ISIL and of ending the civil war in Syria.
"In the absence of such a strategy, taking action to meet the desire to do something is still incoherent."
Fallon also used the radio interview to set out how he thinks the UK could contribute to an air invasion the US, France, and Russia have been undertaking for months.
"The coalition has made it clear they would welcome our pilots," he said, "particularly because our Tornadoes have a very precise weapon, the Brimstone missile, that reduces civilian casualties – and they would welcome having the Tornado firepower available to them in operations in Syria."
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Siraj Datoo is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
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