Nadhim Zahawi shares childhood plight as he makes plans to spend billions on the military

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In a detailed blueprint to put the country’s military on a sound footing, he pledged to raise defence spending to 2.5 percent of national income by 2025 – five years earlier than the government target.

It would mean an extra £11billion by the end of the three years, taking the annual budget then to £57.5billion.

Plans to cut troop numbers by 10,000 – branded madness by army top brass – will be reversed and land, sea and air defences will all be bolstered.

Mr Zahawi said: “The public rightly expects the Government to keep them safe and to stand up to the horrors being committed on our doorstep in Ukraine. But we cannot rise to the challenge without properly funding our selfless armed forces – and funding them fast.”

“I escaped the horrors of Saddam Hussein – I know the price of inaction and I will never let it happen on my watch.”

Mr Zahawi was born in Baghdad to Kurdish parents in 1967 and the family fled to safety in the UK when he was 11.

He started leading polling company YouGov from his shed in 2000 and floated the company five years later.

Mr Zahawi, 55, said Britain is a “beacon of hope” for oppressed people all over the world. The Cabinet minister promised to close loopholes in the sanctions regime against Russia. The Financial Conduct Authority will be given powers to close crypto accounts linked to “designated persons”, such as cronies of dictators such as Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Oligarchs will be stopped from offloading assets to avoid sanctions before they formally come into force. Mr Zahawi will also clamp down on the flow of Chinese money into universities and strategic industries. And no international aid would be allowed to be directed to the nation.

Conservative MPs have been increasingly concerned about the grip the Beijing government has on British infrastructure and its influence on academic institutions.

Ex-Chancellor Rishi Sunak reduced international aid spending from 0.7 percent of GDP during the pandemic but promised to restore it when the economic situation improved.

His successor insisted he will maintain the 0.5 percent level indefinitely.

Mr Zahawi said he would change aid rules so military support for Ukraine and British overseas territories counts towards the figure. He said: “The freedoms we hold dear are facing threats not seen before in this century.”

“From Putin’s barbaric invasion of Ukraine, to China’s murder of its own citizens, tyranny is on the rise. We must be prepared to keep our great nation safe and uphold commitments to our allies. Warfare is evolving and we need to use every weapon in our arsenal.”

“Our economic sanctions regime rightly targets those complicit in Putin’s war crimes, but it must go further. We cannot stand idly by while those on the sanctions list exploit loopholes to offload their assets and evade the consequences.”

“My commitment to Trident and Nato is non-negotiable. I want strong and thriving relationships with our core allies in the US, Europe and the Commonwealth to show a united front to our enemies.”

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