ANY delay in increasing defence spending will be “damaging” to the UK’s armed forces, according to Shadow Defence Secretary James Cartlidge.

He told GB News: “There’s no timetable. There’s no plan actually. This is an amazing opportunity for the Prime Minister to go to the Washington summit, which is about NATO after all, and to set out very clearly a timetable to get to 2.5% spending of GDP on defence.

“We need that as a country, that would have sent an incredibly powerful signal to our potential adversaries like in Russia, whereas instead we now have huge uncertainty for the people who run our armed forces.

“They don’t know what’s going to happen, they don’t know when we’re going to get to 2.5%. If we’re going to get there, will it be after spending review or before?

“These are all now huge questions. What they needed to know was when we’d get there so that they could plan and ensure they have the best capability for our armed forces, which in this dangerous world we find ourselves in would have been the right thing to do.

“I’m very disappointed in this delay and I think it will be damaging for our armed forces.”

Asked about the Tory leadership contest, he said: “We do want to be an effective opposition. We have a constitutional role to perform, which is to hold the Government to account.

“That’s why I’m standing in front of your camera talking to you about defence spending. I think it’s a matter of profound national interest. I’m happy to be here doing that.

“In terms of what you’ve heard from potential contenders in the leadership race and so on, obviously, our priorities are now to establish a process to get to a leadership election.

“I hope that we have a debate as a party in a constructive manner because there needs to be two parts to that. We need to look back at the election and work out where it went wrong.

“It was a terrible result and we need to analyse all the data, work out in what we could have done differently perhaps, but above all, we then need to have a discussion as a party about our future so that we make the right decision and take our time over it in electing the best person possible to present a positive alternative to Labour.”