Counter-Daesh: Quarterly Update – <i>Statement</i> | Lords debates

The noble Earl will forgive me if I press him a little further on the issue of Libya, where Daesh has now established bases on the southern shore of the Mediterranean, within easy reach of southern Europe. I also ask him to take into account the well-founded reports that Daesh has formed an association with Boko Haram. Military success is obviously to be welcomed but, if a consequence of that is displacing the activity of Daesh into further acts of terrorism, it is clear that we must have a strategy to deal with that. Precisely what is that strategy?

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Counter-Daesh: Quarterly Update – <i>Statement</i> | Lords debates

The noble Earl will forgive me if I press him a little further on the issue of Libya, where Daesh has now established bases on the southern shore of the Mediterranean, within easy reach of southern Europe. I also ask him to take into account the well-founded reports that Daesh has formed an association with Boko Haram. Military success is obviously to be welcomed but, if a consequence of that is displacing the activity of Daesh into further acts of terrorism, it is clear that we must have a strategy to deal with that. Precisely what is that strategy?

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Queen’s Speech – <i>Debate (3rd Day)</i> | Lords debates

My Lords, I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Jowell, on her maiden speech. I see that she is no longer in her place, but outside the protocols and confines of the Chamber, I am very glad to acknowledge her as a close friend. In particular, I congratulate her yet again on the remarkable achievement of bringing the Olympic Games to London, which proved to be such a success. In my remarks today, I want to apply my mind and invite noble Lords to apply theirs to the consequences of withdrawal from the European Union for relations between the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union.

That is of particular significance in the year of the American presidential election. As we have already seen, Mr Trump and Mr Sanders are avowedly isolationist. So far as Mrs Clinton is concerned, she has been badly burned by her support for military action against Iraq and, when she was at the State Department, for being the author of the suggestion that United States’ foreign policy should pivot towards the East. That was later described as a rebalancing in some effort to allay the fears of the Europeans. But what is clear is that the State Department increasingly looks towards China and the problems of the South China Sea.

I do not believe that there is any question of the abandonment of Europe by the United States, whoever becomes president, because of NATO and the obligations that are contained there, particularly in Article 5, and of course because the US has interests to defend and maintain. It is worth pointing out that President Obama’s intervention—which gave rise to one of Mr Johnson’s, shall we say, less attractive interventions—was based on self-interest. We should not be surprised at that, nor feel any sense other than understanding, because it has been the United States’ policy since President Kennedy that Britain should play a leading role in Europe. For the White House, a European Union with the United Kingdom inside it is much more reflective of the United States’ interests and of the values that we and the United States share. Indeed, you could argue, if you were being politically mischievous, that it provides a counterbalance to France and support for Germany by our presence. Such influences are an important part of the relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States. Removing them will have an impact on what we British wish to call the special relationship, although sometimes in American circles it is given rather less credit than we would prefer.

But there is one area where relations are strained: defence spending. Washington spends 75% of NATO’s budget and only four countries in Europe—not three, as was suggested earlier—reach NATO’s minimum spending target of 2% of annual GDP: the United Kingdom, Estonia, Belgium and Poland. The United States used to talk of increased burden sharing when the question of European defence expenditure came up. Now, Members of Congress and of the Administration are much more vocal in private, and increasingly in public, in asserting that Europe gets defence on the cheap, an argument recently put most aggressively by Donald Trump. If Europe wants to maintain the present level of American commitment to Europe, it needs, if I may be forgiven the Americanism, to step up to the plate. It needs to adopt policies of interoperability, force specialisation and—most difficult—common procurement. There is no question of a European army, save in the mind of Mr Juncker. Go around the capitals of members of the European Union and ask people if they want a European army; it will be very hard to find anyone who says yes.

Our role and the role of Europe is to allay the anxieties of the United States and to enhance our security. That we can do through the kind of co-operation in defence which the European Union offers, not least in European projects such as the Eurofighter, now the Eurofighter Typhoon. The compelling arguments for maintaining our presence in Europe only go towards buttressing the strength of our relationship with the United States.

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Queen’s Speech – <i>Debate (3rd Day)</i> | Lords debates

My Lords, I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Jowell, on her maiden speech. I see that she is no longer in her place, but outside the protocols and confines of the Chamber, I am very glad to acknowledge her as a close friend. In particular, I congratulate her yet again on the remarkable achievement of bringing the Olympic Games to London, which proved to be such a success. In my remarks today, I want to apply my mind and invite noble Lords to apply theirs to the consequences of withdrawal from the European Union for relations between the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union.

That is of particular significance in the year of the American presidential election. As we have already seen, Mr Trump and Mr Sanders are avowedly isolationist. So far as Mrs Clinton is concerned, she has been badly burned by her support for military action against Iraq and, when she was at the State Department, for being the author of the suggestion that United States’ foreign policy should pivot towards the East. That was later described as a rebalancing in some effort to allay the fears of the Europeans. But what is clear is that the State Department increasingly looks towards China and the problems of the South China Sea.

I do not believe that there is any question of the abandonment of Europe by the United States, whoever becomes president, because of NATO and the obligations that are contained there, particularly in Article 5, and of course because the US has interests to defend and maintain. It is worth pointing out that President Obama’s intervention—which gave rise to one of Mr Johnson’s, shall we say, less attractive interventions—was based on self-interest. We should not be surprised at that, nor feel any sense other than understanding, because it has been the United States’ policy since President Kennedy that Britain should play a leading role in Europe. For the White House, a European Union with the United Kingdom inside it is much more reflective of the United States’ interests and of the values that we and the United States share. Indeed, you could argue, if you were being politically mischievous, that it provides a counterbalance to France and support for Germany by our presence. Such influences are an important part of the relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States. Removing them will have an impact on what we British wish to call the special relationship, although sometimes in American circles it is given rather less credit than we would prefer.

But there is one area where relations are strained: defence spending. Washington spends 75% of NATO’s budget and only four countries in Europe—not three, as was suggested earlier—reach NATO’s minimum spending target of 2% of annual GDP: the United Kingdom, Estonia, Belgium and Poland. The United States used to talk of increased burden sharing when the question of European defence expenditure came up. Now, Members of Congress and of the Administration are much more vocal in private, and increasingly in public, in asserting that Europe gets defence on the cheap, an argument recently put most aggressively by Donald Trump. If Europe wants to maintain the present level of American commitment to Europe, it needs, if I may be forgiven the Americanism, to step up to the plate. It needs to adopt policies of interoperability, force specialisation and—most difficult—common procurement. There is no question of a European army, save in the mind of Mr Juncker. Go around the capitals of members of the European Union and ask people if they want a European army; it will be very hard to find anyone who says yes.

Our role and the role of Europe is to allay the anxieties of the United States and to enhance our security. That we can do through the kind of co-operation in defence which the European Union offers, not least in European projects such as the Eurofighter, now the Eurofighter Typhoon. The compelling arguments for maintaining our presence in Europe only go towards buttressing the strength of our relationship with the United States.

Posted in Hansard | Comments Off on Queen’s Speech – <i>Debate (3rd Day)</i> | Lords debates

Queen’s Speech – <i>Debate (3rd Day)</i> | Lords debates

My Lords, I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Jowell, on her maiden speech. I see that she is no longer in her place, but outside the protocols and confines of the Chamber, I am very glad to acknowledge her as a close friend. In particular, I congratulate her yet again on the remarkable achievement of bringing the Olympic Games to London, which proved to be such a success. In my remarks today, I want to apply my mind and invite noble Lords to apply theirs to the consequences of withdrawal from the European Union for relations between the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Union.

That is of particular significance in the year of the American presidential election. As we have already seen, Mr Trump and Mr Sanders are avowedly isolationist. So far as Mrs Clinton is concerned, she has been badly burned by her support for military action against Iraq and, when she was at the State Department, for being the author of the suggestion that United States’ foreign policy should pivot towards the East. That was later described as a rebalancing in some effort to allay the fears of the Europeans. But what is clear is that the State Department increasingly looks towards China and the problems of the South China Sea.

I do not believe that there is any question of the abandonment of Europe by the United States, whoever becomes president, because of NATO and the obligations that are contained there, particularly in Article 5, and of course because the US has interests to defend and maintain. It is worth pointing out that President Obama’s intervention—which gave rise to one of Mr Johnson’s, shall we say, less attractive interventions—was based on self-interest. We should not be surprised at that, nor feel any sense other than understanding, because it has been the United States’ policy since President Kennedy that Britain should play a leading role in Europe. For the White House, a European Union with the United Kingdom inside it is much more reflective of the United States’ interests and of the values that we and the United States share. Indeed, you could argue, if you were being politically mischievous, that it provides a counterbalance to France and support for Germany by our presence. Such influences are an important part of the relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States. Removing them will have an impact on what we British wish to call the special relationship, although sometimes in American circles it is given rather less credit than we would prefer.

But there is one area where relations are strained: defence spending. Washington spends 75% of NATO’s budget and only four countries in Europe—not three, as was suggested earlier—reach NATO’s minimum spending target of 2% of annual GDP: the United Kingdom, Estonia, Belgium and Poland. The United States used to talk of increased burden sharing when the question of European defence expenditure came up. Now, Members of Congress and of the Administration are much more vocal in private, and increasingly in public, in asserting that Europe gets defence on the cheap, an argument recently put most aggressively by Donald Trump. If Europe wants to maintain the present level of American commitment to Europe, it needs, if I may be forgiven the Americanism, to step up to the plate. It needs to adopt policies of interoperability, force specialisation and—most difficult—common procurement. There is no question of a European army, save in the mind of Mr Juncker. Go around the capitals of members of the European Union and ask people if they want a European army; it will be very hard to find anyone who says yes.

Our role and the role of Europe is to allay the anxieties of the United States and to enhance our security. That we can do through the kind of co-operation in defence which the European Union offers, not least in European projects such as the Eurofighter, now the Eurofighter Typhoon. The compelling arguments for maintaining our presence in Europe only go towards buttressing the strength of our relationship with the United States.

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