BORIS Johnson’s plan to unveil the biggest programme of investment in the UK’s armed forces since the Cold War has been described as “totally inappropriate” by campaigners.

The Tory Government is to pledge an additional £16.5 billion to the Ministry of Defence over the course of this parliament, more than its manifesto commitment of a 0.5% real terms increase each year.

The plans will include the creation of an agency dedicated to artificial intelligence and a “space command” which would launch the UK’s first rocket by 2022.

Johnson will lay out the plans in the Commons later and vow to “transform” the military by developing cutting-edge capabilities in the future battlefields of cyber and space.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson to announce biggest UK military investment since the Cold War

But campaigners have been critical of the news, which comes just weeks after the Tories resisted extending free school meals to hungry children over the school holidays in England.

The UK Government has also refused to extend the £20 uplift to Universal Credit beyond April, which would cost £9bn overall.

The Campaign Against Arms Trade urged ministers to rethink its priorities in the wake of the news.

Andrew Smith of the body said: "This is a totally inappropriate response to the pandemic. Only a matter of days ago the Government was telling us that there wasn’t enough money to feed hungry school students during the holidays, but now it has found an extra £16bn to add to what was already one of the biggest military budgets in the world.

“Covid has exposed the impact of cuts and austerity. It is essential that the economy is rebuilt, but that should be based on sustainable jobs and industries that can help to create a stronger, greener and safer economy.

“The money should be used to build the green jobs that we need, and to fund the goods and services that we all rely on. It should not be used to buy evermore complex and deadly weapon systems.”

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Smith added that the UK’s security policy has been focused on “military solutions, foreign wars of aggression and hypocritical and dangerous partnerships with human rights abusing regimes” for “too long”.

He went on: “Our security is not advanced by throwing money at the military. It is strengthened by building fairer societies that support the most vulnerable, and by investing in our public services."

Children’s campaigners have also hit out at the spending pledge, with the chief executive of the National Children’s Bureau questioning why the Government has cash for defence but not children in crisis.

Anna Feuchtwang said: “It’s appalling that hard-pressed families have to rely on food banks to get by, and that the services that might stop them spiralling into further crisis are being cut year-on-year with local authorities facing bankruptcy.

“We need the Government to take seriously its responsibility to the next generation and have a proper strategy for investing in children.”