The remark was made in the House of Commons today during a defence spending debate and was met with surprise by many members on all sides of the house.
Madeleine Moon, Member for Bridgend, said during the debate:
“Does the minister appreciate that a rearmed Germany would not only give concern perhaps to some of Germany’s neighbours but also to Russia.”
It is understood that the MP was referring to German plans to boost defence spending by £2Bn this year.
NATO estimates for 2016 show that only five alliance members, the US, UK, Greece, Poland and Estonia will spend a minimum of 2% of national output on defence, which is the target the alliance sets out for its members.
Germany’s defence spending in 2017 will be 1.2% of GDP, this is an increase over previous years and is largely due to a resurgent Russia according to the German government.
In an interview on Monday, head of the alliance Jens Stoltenberg said that a timetable for plans to reach the 2% spending guideline could be adopted at a NATO summit in May:
“The proposal from some allies is to agree in May that by the end of the year, at the latest, we will have national plans.
We can foresee different ways of doing this. The thing is to have a stronger national commitment.”
Stoltenberg added that while attaining the goal “will be more difficult for Germany and its much larger economy”, he said any boost will help security. NATO officials have said previously that an increase in defense expenditures by Germany is crucial.
“Germany won’t reach 2% within a few years, it will take some time. But of course if Germany starts to increase military spending, it will really make a difference because their economy is so big.”
During the US presidential campaign Donald Trump had threatened to make US support for NATO conditional on members contributing “their fair share” and US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis last month warned NATO allies that the US could “moderate its commitment to the alliance”.