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NATO Summit

Volume 644: debated on Monday 9 July 2018

Our objective for the summit is a modern, unified NATO that is fit to face current and future global challenges and that is delivering against the commitments that allies have made.

Given that the NATO defence budget will be under discussion, does the Secretary of State agree that President Trump has a point when he criticises the lack of commitment on behalf of some member states towards our collective security?

I think it is right to expect every single European country to contribute to the defence of Europe. All European countries need to step up their defence spending.

Does the Secretary of State agree that American Presidents come and go but the alliance we have through NATO is the foundation stone of our security and our international effectiveness? Will he work to overcome resistance and to keep NATO strong, with America in it?

We are rapidly approaching the 70th year of NATO, and this alliance has kept Europe at peace with itself and has delivered our security. I will do everything, as will the Government and, I am sure, the Opposition, to ensure that that endures and will last another 70 years.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that this is the 70th anniversary year of the most successful defence alliance the world has ever seen? Does he agree that, after President Trump has rightly been accorded the respect that is his due for his views on the enlargement of spending on NATO, the most pressing object of the meeting should be the continuation of transformation? Without transformation, NATO cannot give a full account of itself on the battlefield.

My right hon. Friend is absolutely correct in his analysis. We have to make sure that NATO has the ability to respond to the challenges of the future, which is why we are investing more in NATO’s command structure to make sure it can act more speedily against emerging threats.

What message does the Secretary of State believe President Trump should take from the NATO summit to President Putin the following day?

I was hoping President Trump would come to visit Britain before going to visit President Putin, but he should take a message of unity, of European nations and our north Atlantic partners standing shoulder to shoulder to make sure that Europe and the north Atlantic remain safe.

I am delighted to hear the Secretary of State say that. Does he agree that it is totally and utterly unacceptable for a British citizen to be murdered by a foreign force on British soil, as happened in my neighbouring constituency of Salisbury? That will, of course, form a central part of discussions at NATO. Does he agree that it is surely right that we should show Russia a strong hand and say to it that this kind of behaviour is totally and utterly unacceptable?

That is absolutely correct. We need to stand together with our allies, and we have had an unprecedented amount of support from countries right across the NATO alliance saying that the behaviour of Russia is completely and utterly unacceptable and is taking that country down the route of pariah status.

The Secretary of State has repeatedly said that the conclusions of the modernising defence programme will be published in time for the NATO summit. I would never suggest that the Government are in the grip of complete chaos and, even if all those around him were to lose their head, I know the Defence Secretary, of all people, will keep his. Can he now assure the House that the promise to publish before Wednesday’s summit still stands?

What we are aiming to do is introduce the headline findings of the modernising defence programme before the summer recess.

It is very troubling indeed that the UK risks going to this NATO summit without being able to offer certainty to allies about our future defence capabilities. The past few months have seen unprecedented leaks from the MDP, speculation about cuts, outlandish briefings to the media and even a reported threat to bring down the Prime Minister, although I gather the Defence Secretary may now have to join a queue for that. The MDP review will ultimately be a futile exercise, however, unless it is properly funded. Can he tell us what assurances he has had from the Chancellor that the Treasury will provide additional funds, as required?

What we see is a Conservative Government who this year committed an extra £800 million over the budget that was going to go to the Ministry of Defence to support our armed forces. We are undertaking the modernising defence programme to look at the threats this nation faces and to make sure we have the best equipped and best trained armed forces to deal with those threats. The Government have committed money to our armed forces; we have a rising defence budget. We are a very proud nation in the sense that we can see we have been hitting 2% in the past and will continue to do so going forward.