Sunak promises to protect tech supply chains as part of £5bn defence boost

PM announces increase in funding to tackle threats posed by China and Russia

As part of a major investment in defence, prime minister Rishi Sunak has promised to “fortify” the supply chains of technology goods and services.

The supply of tech products has come under increased scrutiny in recent years – nowhere more so than following the decision first to allow, and then to prohibit Huawei from contributing equipment to the UK’s 5G infrastructure. Network providers have until 2027 to strip the Chinese vendor’s kit from their networks.

The PM yesterday announced a “refresh” of the Integrated Review of defence and security conducted in 2021. The update took place in light of the growing and complex threats posed to national security by Russia and China – towards which the government pledged to “adapt our approach to the epoch-defining challenge presented by the Chinese Communist Party’s increasingly concerning military, financial and diplomatic activity”.

The defence shake up promised an additional £5bn in funding for defence, which will support initiatives including the creation of a new National Protective Security Authority within MI5, wihcih will “provide a wide range of UK businesses and other organisations with immediate access to expert security advice”.

An Integrated Security Fund – which will replace the existing £1bn-a-year Conflict Stability, and Security Fund – has also been established to “to deliver on the core objectives of the Integrated Review at home and around the world, including in economic and cyber security”.

“As the world becomes more volatile and competition between states becomes more intense, the UK must be ready to stand our ground,” Sunak said. “We have seen all too clearly in the last year how global crises impact us at home, with Russia’s appalling invasion of Ukraine driving up energy and food prices. We will fortify our national defences, from economic security to technology supply chains and intelligence expertise, to ensure we are never again vulnerable to the actions of a hostile power.”

Sam Trendall

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