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DUP will use power in Westminster to retain defence budget

By Noel McAdam

DUP MPs will use their leverage if there is a hung parliament after the General Election to press for defence spending levels to be maintained, the party said.

The DUP intervention on a national issue comes after David Cameron appeared to fall short of a promise to keep defence spending at the current level of 2% of GDP - the minimum required by Nato.

United States army Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno warned that defence cuts could mean that the UK may no longer be able to undertake the kind of missions it has supported in the past.

DUP South Antrim MP Rev William McCrea said his party could hold the balance of power in a hung parliament scenario.

"Whilst we will not be seeking seats in the Cabinet or narrow party political advantage, we will be working to get the best deal for the UK as a whole and Northern Ireland in particular," he said.

"That includes ensuring that our country is kept safe through an appropriate level of defence spending.

"The United Kingdom has a commitment to our Nato allies which should be honoured."

Mr Cameron has said, however: "Britain has the fifth-largest defence budget of any country in the world and the second-largest in Nato.

"We are a very strong partner for the US."

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