A MEANINGFUL threat to the safety of the country is currently waging war in eastern Europe, and threatening to attack NATO.

I am proud to represent the largest concentration of soldiers in the UK, with 20,000 forces personnel based in the camps and garrisons on Salisbury Plain.

I went up on the Plain recently with Colonel Matt Palmer, the Commander of Army South West, who showed me them all with a sweep of his arm.

We toured the different camps and met soldiers, officers and their families.

As ever I was impressed with the cheerful resilient spirit that keeps the Army going, and ultimately keeps us safe.

But I am also aware of how tough life is for Army people, with a multitude of challenges over kit, accommodation and deployments.

Some of these I can help with, and I do what I can - raising the issue over contaminated water at Trenchard Lines in the Commons, for instance, and lobbying (successfully, I’m glad to say) against the planned changes to the accommodation offer that would have broken the agreement that officers (and their spouses) signed up under.

But more profoundly I see my job as lobbying the MOD and the Treasury to enhance the overall defence budget.

It is a good thing that the armed forces have had a major uplift in spending since the Ukraine invasion.

We have, indeed, spent over £7bn on Ukraine overall, in addition to the transfers of weapons from the UK’s stockpile.

This money is all well spent, in my view, but the British army, navy and air force needs at least that much every year more than it currently gets.

I regret more was not committed to defence at last week’s budget and I will continue to make the case for urgent increases.

If you ask where the money should come from, I point to the expected £10bn a year we are forecasting for additional spending on out-of-work benefits; or the £3bn likely cost of the new Stonehenge tunnel, within sight of the garrisons where soldiers are making do with 40-year old vehicles and a recruitment crisis.