US defense secretary demands UK hike military spending
7 July 2018
US Defense Secretary James Mattis has added fuel to the crisis of Theresa May’s government with a letter to his UK counterpart, Gavin Williamson, stating that Britain’s status as a leading military power “is at risk of erosion.”
The letter, leaked by Williamson, states that the US is veering towards France as a more reliable military partner than the UK. “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 wrote, adding, “It is in the best interest of both our nations for the UK to remain the US partner of choice.”
Mattis’ letter is the most high-profile intervention into British politics since then US President Barack Obama appeared during the Brexit referendum campaign in 2016 to threaten that, in the event of a leave vote, the UK would “go to the back of the queue” in terms of a trade deal with the US.
President Donald Trump has demanded NATO allies increase their military spending substantially. Britain already spends the 2 percent minimum of GDP, but at this stage May has not committed to a substantial increase. France spends 1.7 percent of GDP on defence. However, President Emmanuel Macron has committed to 2 percent and above, with billions of euros to be spent on a vast rearmament strategy up to 2025.
Mattis’ letter could not have been blunter in demanding the UK increase defence spending or face the effective end of the much vaunted “special relationship” between the two countries.
He wrote, “I am concerned that your ability to continue to provide this critical military foundation for diplomatic success is at risk of erosion, while together…