Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg praised the United Kingdom’s important contributions to NATO in a visit to London on Thursday.

The United Kingdom has long led by example in NATO,” said Mr. Stoltenberg at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Theresa May.  He welcomed that the UK leads a NATO battlegroup in Estonia, contributes to NATO’s training mission in Afghanistan, and that Royal Air Force jets patrol the skies over the Black Sea region.

Mr. Stoltenberg also welcomed the UK’s continued commitment to spend 2% of its GDP on defence. “I know that NATO can rely on the United Kingdom, and the United Kingdom can rely on NATO,” he said.

During his two day visit to London, the Secretary General made a keynote speech ahead of the Summit of Allied Heads of State and Government in Brussels on 11 and 12 July. Speaking at Lancaster House, Mr. Stoltenberg explained the importance of the transatlantic bond and how it is being strengthened in NATO.

He highlighted how defence ties between North America and Europe have grown closer and that the principle at the heart of Alliance remains strong, saying: “again and again, we unite around our common goal. We stand together. We protect each other.

As well as discussing preparations for the NATO Summit with Prime Minister May, the Secretary General also had talks in London with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson.

34 COMMENTS

  1. It looks like May will go soft on defence in favour of greater spend on the NHS. Whilst I sympathise with the calls for extra spending on the NHS this cannot go into the pockets of already overpaid managers and accountants or on procuring expensive medicines and basic medical equipment when cheaper options are available. One suspects that the greater NHS spending will come at the expense of lower defence spending….this is the great worry and May seems to have no love for the military or understanding that the first role of government is defence of the nation state. This was born out in the 1930s when we cut defence spending to the bone and then had to fight a resurgent Germany…The lessons of history need to be learnt again one sees…

    • I am no fan of May, but she flatly denied yesterday’s newspaper reports in the press conference with the Nato SG. She also committed to 2% on defence and 179bn on new equipment. Additionally, the Conservative manifesto from last year made clear the 2% commitment and the 0.5% above inflation rise each year until the next scheduled election. Also, in the manifesto is a commitment to maintain the overall size of the armed forces. What I think the tussle is about is Williamson presenting the case for more money above what has been committed and May asking him to justify asking for more.

      • Clive please tell me you are joking, the conservative manifesto was abondoned the day after the general election don’t take anything off that as gospel.

        They will abandon their manifesto tax promises to pay for the NHS increase its the only way. (Which is a good thing btw)

        The way i see it we will definitely not see a defence spending decrease and are still commited to this new equipment plan but the black hole needs to be fixed, T May is reported to have asked Williamson about why we need all our capabilities, it’s clear they are looking to cut something to fix this black hole in the short term.

        This a source for the Financial Times which the Guardian and BBC are running with not the Daily Mail, it wouldn’t surprise me if Williamson or someone else made sure that May’s question got out to put more pressure on May and Hammond to increase defence spending to fix the black hole and to try turn defence into a big national issue, and the way this story has been reported and the way May has had to deny it, I think it’s worked.

        I’m struggling to think when defence spending was reported as much as this in recent memory, it’s got people talking more and helped the debate.

        This is not particular addressed to you Clive but people need to stop being tribal about politics and stop defending her, get on social media and ask why she asked the question, the conservatives and May are on Twitter, start telling people why defence spending should go up, raise and spread this issue as much as we can, we live in a democracy guys let’s start using it Ffs.

        • As I said, I am not a fan of May and I didn’t mean my comments to appear as a defence of her. She did mention the 179bn new equipment and 2% in her press conference with Nato SG yesterday, and make of her denial what you will. Mention of the manifesto was meant to show that there is a commitment in writing, and whatever a manifesto commitment is worth, to break it would give her opponents just another stick with which to beat her, which she can ill afford. I agree that a financial cut in defence spending isn’t likely. It is extra funding that Williamson wants to prevent capabilities having to be downgraded to fill the black hole in the new spending. Yes, May is probably looking at each capability and asking Williamson why it is needed or if it can be downgraded, and he is coming back with reasons for keeping capabilities at existing levels or perhaps surrendering a downgrade in one capability in order to save another. I agree that the current coverage of defence spending is more prominant than I can remember for a long time. I am not a user of Twitter, but I have written letters to MPs urgeing increased spending.

        • If anyone is asking the chiefs hard questions I’m for it 100%. I don’t care who it is or which party they’re in. They’ve been getting away with murder for far too long. As to Williamson I’ve seen no evidence he’s the slightest bit interested in our military. His interests are solely about getting his backside in 10 Downing Street.

  2. and this, right here is the problem.

    Jens uses the UK to shame the rest of Europe because they are so shameful. May & Hammond hide behind Jens and point to Europe saying ‘we’re the best in Europe – what more do you want’?

    Trump looks at all of this and says ‘so you’re a slightly taller pygmy but you’re still a pygmy.

    I hope he mugs Europe off until we get our house in order – or at least makes continued support conditional. Things need a shake and Trump might just do that.

    Meanwhile back at numbers 10 & 11 – Pygmies.

    • If Trump is a Putin Russian stooge, he may inspire greater force levels hre if we find the US also becoming a lifelong presidency with token elections, running down US support for S Korea to help N Korean diplomacy & allowing Putin a free hand to rebuild Russian hegemony in eastern Europe. I hope I’m just being overly paranoid & cynical!
      Hopefully Trump will eventually be given enough rope to metaphorically hang himself before he does too much damage.

      The UKs commitment to NATO has never been in question. Funny how the European Nato allies seem to take great pleasure in abusing us over brexit. Some allies, though we can’t believe the EU or BBC view that the only intelligent position must be EU & ever more EU.

  3. Surprise, surprise, NATO would be a whole lot worse off without our contribution. I doubt the PM will have too many options when it comes to defence. If an independent Britain is going to become a true international player, it will require considerably increased spending on defence. The UK has always found trade deals to be accompanied by some form of link -up with military aid, or direct assistance. That aspect where applicable, will need to be funded, along with a growing commitment in the Far East to bolster Australian, US monitoring of Chinese activities.
    There is an argument to include defence spending as part of the Government’s rethink on tax? One principle commitment that is bestowed on parliament is the defence of the Realm, and therefore should be funded accordingly.

  4. “This was born out in the 1930s when we cut defence spending to the bone and then had to fight a resurgent Germany…The lessons of history need to be learnt again one sees…”

    Where are people getting this from? Defence spending increased in the 30’s during appeasement.

    I’ve already pointed this out on here and listed how we were re arming as well and what ships we were building.

    And as far as I’m aware T May has not said anything about cutting defence spending to fund the NHS, as I see it the NHS increase will easily be paid for by the tories fudging their manifesto tax policies a little, a small tax increase which the public already back if it’s for the NHS, and a little borrowing, which after yesterday’s deficit and borrowing figures over the last year being better than expected is quite doable.

    What I can’t fathom is what T May’s endgame is on this, it’s being widely reported this morning that she did indeed ask G Williamson why we needed all our capabilities even if she did deny it. So what’s the story there? Imo it’s about this black hole in the budget, May and Hammond are trying to sound it from Williamson what can be cut. And by the looks of it he stood his ground and got a leak out that made May look weak on defence.

    • If the reading between the lines about Williamson is true and he manages to stave off cuts then he’s the best defence sec we’ve had in a long while. If he manages an increase at all he’s a wizard not seen since Merlin. It could well be a very good opportunity to put the case for greater spend:

      May: Tell me why we need each defence article in the budget?

      Williamson then goes through each line by line outlining how threadbare each currently is (we are all well aware of these) and wakes May/Hammond up.

      I suspect due to Hammond’s previous def sec role he won’t be swayed by anything short of a direct threat to our nation in triplicate, handed directly to the Queen however.

      Oh and I’m a Tory voter lol.

        • I don’t care how he does it, as long as he does. He knows PR is the big achilles heel here and uses it as a weapon, much like his days as Chief Whip, a role which incidentally means he has a lot of insight into how to leverage things from other MP’s.

          As for doing the job he’s paid to do, I don’t know of anything suggesting he isn’t? A lot of people on here would agree he is doing a pretty good job so far.

    • It is right that the PM asks why money is required. If that question is not asked then the PM is not doing her job properly.

      • Oh yeah I agree completely. It’s whether the PM then listens if she hears we need more money to stop competencies being eroded.

        • Unfortunately the UK is obliged by law to spend 0.7% every year on International Development. It’s a UN aspirational figure but only the UK was dumb enough to put it on the statute book 😒

          • A law that’s only enforceable as the secretary having to stand up and explain herself in Parliament.

          • It can potentially be overturned though with enough parliamentary support though can’t it? Unless I’m mistaken, and I might be, fixed/full term parliaments are now enshrined in law but May was still able to get round that and call a snap election.

          • I’m not sure of the procedure but yes, in theory I think any law can be repealed or amended with enough support.

    • I don’t really want to say this but I’m afraid that I’m pretty pessimistic about all of this. I really hope that both parties see some sense and the Brexit negotiations start to look as if they are moving towards a more positive conclusion otherwise, even with all the warm words about increased threat levels and Williamson fighting the good fight, the status quo of 2% of GDP spent on defence might result in a real-term decrease in defence spending over the coming years. The UK has already dropped from joint top of the G7 growth league to bottom of the league and arguably the full consequences of Brexit, especially a messy no-deal one, haven’t hit us yet. If our GDP growth languishes at a rate that is less than equipment and wage inflation then that 2% of GDP is going to buy less and less each year. To make matters worse a messy Brexit might well see a repeat of the sharp drop in Sterling that we saw after the referendum result which would have serious consequences for things like the F-35 and P-8A programmes to name just two.

      I would love to be wrong, and things can change very quickly in the world of down-to-the-wire negotiations, but I do think that we need to start seeing some more positive mood music coming out of these Brexit negotiations if we are to have much hope of actually seeing any uplift in capability rather than having to juggle things madly and perhaps put more money in just to stand still. Admittedly by standing still I mean executing on the currently envisioned plans, e.g. the magnificent carriers, very capable T26s, good capacity from the new Tides, 7th world-beating Astute going ahead etc and that is all really good stuff so I suppose I mustn’t get too despondent but for those people almost demanding big increases in various capabilities over and above existing plans, much as I’d love to see that happen too, I just don’t see how it’s going to be remotely possible in the foreseeable future.

      • If the pound does drop it will increase the competitiveness of programs like T-26 that are exported abroad. If only we had more to off-set any increase in costs for importing.

        • That is true. It’s important to focus on the positives as well as the negatives. I usually try to be balanced and I’m definitely not an “everything is rubbish” kind of guy but my last post was pretty much unremittingly negative so thanks for pointing out the potential to boost exports. Definitely a good point.

          • 🙂 not my intention to call you on it so much as to point it out. I think if we can get to a place after Brexit where we are building things to export and increasing productivity, then even with a reduced pound we will be in a good position.

          • I know it wasn’t your intention to call me on it Steve. I was actually using your post as an excuse to call myself on it. 🙂

            It’s always wise to look at a situation from all angles.

  5. I regret I am with Julian on this one, rather pessimistic. Talking about the need for an increase in defence spending is now more prominent than it has been since goodness knows when, and that has to be a good thing. However even though we know that the external threats to us are increasing I fear it is very likely that Williamson, even though he is trying to raise the profile as hard as he can, will come away with nothing. The money has to be found for the NHS, tax promises will be fudged to pay for it, but Hammond then has a cast iron excuse to keep defence on a tight lead, “show me what has changed since I was Sec Def, etc” and you can practically hear the can being kicked down the road already.
    As has been said already Trump could well prove to be the best recruiting sergeant for more spending that we can find (and who thought that could ever be said!) The NATO summit next month really will be a place to be a fly on the wall, I would like to hear the exchange between Trump and Merkel when the German Chancellor has to admit that they only commit to 1.2% of GDP, and most of the Luftwaffe is unserviceable because they won’t buy the spares. You can bet that Trump will have all the contributions in his briefing notes, and they don’t make easy reading to someone as rude as he is! We do live in interesting times.

  6. There will be NO increase from the current 2.2% GDP spent on defence and that fact was confirmed yesterday during a radio programme I was listening to. The UK although spending 2.2% actually spends a considerable amount less of that figure on the armed forces than other European countries with the rest made up by civil service pensions etc etc. The spending raised now will be spent on the NHS and I am sorry to say that taxes will be going up. Again, this country has to face reality. We can no longer afford to be a first rate power. Brexit is hitting all of us hard and is going to cost billions. The news today from Airbus is shocking and those of us dependent on sub contracts will be hard hit.

    • IF they go through with it and aren’t just doing this for a large government subsidy/order. I actually think that’s a pretty good post there TH and agree with the majority (aside from the first rate power stuff, which to me is just jargon as we can still project power far quicker and more effectively across continents than pretty much any International power bar the USA), the sky must be falling.

  7. We may not get 3% right now, but it is coming soon. You can sort of feel it on the breeze, the whole world is gearing up for a conventional version of WW3. All the old alliances are collapsing, power and influence is shifting around the globe. Russia and China becoming increasingly significant military threats, the great American empire is close to collapse, just like every other empire as it dies its defence spending and intervention levels increase.

    World wars start over small things and escalate….. there is no shortage of potential flash points around the globe currently and with increasingly belligerent governments taking power…….

    The main whinge on this site and others is the UK’s capability gaps, but if you look at where we are spending our money… RN and RAF… and look at the kit we are buying / planning to buy, its pretty obvious what our future role in a European wide conflict will be, and it isn’t boots on the ground !

    However it will all probably fizzle out as it has in the past, as calmer heads prevail. I’m not going to worry until we start looking at buying advanced SAM defences for the UK.

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