Ahead of tomorrow’s NATO Summit, the UK political scene has fallen into a small state of disarray. Both the Foreign Secretary and the Brexit Secretary have resigned and the Prime Minister is leading what appears to be a divided government. However, such divisions must be swept aside in favour of promoting a Britain set to lead in the global and security space.
With recent criticisms, NATO has found itself in the last-chance saloon, facing existential questions about its relevance, as well as its resolve to defend and protect the interests of the West. Ever since the 1990s, it has been under pressure to justify its existence, the desire of the western democracies to present a united front has guaranteed its survival.
President Trump, now on his way to Brussels, made it abundantly clear that he holds little esteem for the international organisation and stressed that meeting with the Russian President Vladimir Putin will be the “easiest” of all his meetings, which include a trip to the UK.
For a president whose central mantra is “America First”, his natural instinct is to view Europe with deep suspicion. The trade war that President Trump has embarked upon has set the tone for robust discussions. But his biggest issue will undoubtedly will be the inability of many countries within NATO to meet the required 2 per cent spend of GDP on defence.
Washington has often expressed frustration at the inability of European countries to not pay their dues on defence spending. Former US President George W Bush regularly expressed concern over Europe’s preference for indulging in bloated welfare budgets rather than investing in proper protection for its citizens.
The Obama Administration too, although of a different political ilk, said that Europe faced a “dim if not dismal” future if military spending was not increased.
President Trump will undoubtedly pursue the 20 NATO states that he believes are not paying their fair share. Last month for example, the US Commander-in-Chief wrote sharply-worded letters to several key allies, which included Germany, Belgium, Norway and Canada, taking them to task for not spending enough.
This is Britain’s time to stand firmly as a global security leader. If the transatlantic alliance is to prevail, it requires Britain, and the British military, to be its bedrock in Europe. And if Britain cannot fulfil this fundamental duty, then, this time, the NATO alliance really has no chance of survival. We must join with President Trump in encouraging other countries to pull their weight and we too must be prepared to commit further to the alliance.
Celebrations that took place in London today exemplified the strength of our Air Force and we have just signed a deal to build Australia’s newest set of frigates. We must continue to be a global leader in defence and security. This is our chance to to step up and commit to our allies and be a truly global Britain.