Spend more on military or France takes your place: US warns UK
Story Code : 735411
In a letter that was kept a secret until recently, Mattis warned his British counterpart Gavin Williamson that Washington was concerned London’s military power and diplomatic influence was “at risk of erosion” due to lack of funding.
The two-page letter, sent on June 12, was leaked to The Sun on Monday, states that the credibility of the UK’s armed forces” was at stake.
“I am concerned that your ability to continue to provide this critical military foundation for diplomatic success is at risk of erosion, while together we face a world awash with change,” wrote Mattis.
“A global nation like the UK, with interests and commitments around the world, will require a level of defense spending beyond what we would expect from allies with only regional interests,” he added.
The letter came ahead of a NATO summit on 11 and 12 July, which will be followed by US President Donald Trump’s much-anticipated first visit to the UK.
Trump has urged members of NATO to meet the Western military alliance’s target of spending at least 2 percent of their GDP on military purposes or Washington would pull his support.
So far only France has shown real commitment to that goal. French President Emmanuel Macron recently pledged to invest an extra £260 billion in the military by 2025.
Welcoming the decision, Mattis said: “As global actors, France and the US have concluded that now is the time to significantly increase our investment in defense. Other allies are following suit.”
He stressed in the leaked letter that a hike in military spending was “in the best interest of both our nations for the UK to remain the US partner of choice” but “in that spirit, the UK will need to invest and maintain robust military capability”.
Williamson has been locked in a tussle with 10 Downing Street to try and secure more money for his department.
A British parliamentary panel has warned last month that May needede to save around £20 billion a year in other sectors and increase military investment to levels that have only been seen immediately after the end of Cold War.
Mattis even raised the funding issue with Williamson in the letter, saying, “I hope the UK will soon be able to share with us a clear, and fully funded, forward defense blueprint that will allow me to plan our own future engagement with you from a position of strength and confidence.”