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Sat, 6 June 2020

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Donald Trump 'to pile pressure on Britain to boost Nato spending’

Donald Trump 'to pile pressure on Britain to boost Nato spending’
2 min read

Britain will be expected to lay out plans to increase its financial contribution to Nato when leaders meet next month amid growing pressure from America, it has been reported.

US President Donald Trump has consistently criticised countries for failing to hit the alliance's target of spending 2% of GDP on defence, but is said to be counting on the UK and Europe to go beyond that amount.

The demand risks further unravelling tensions between Gavin Williamson and Philip Hammond next week as the Defence Secretary ups his efforts to win more cash from the Treasury.

The Times reports that Mr Williamson needs the Chancellor to pledge a significant increase in defence expenditure to work on the findings of the modernising defence programme, yet Mr Hammond has only agreed to sort out the issue by October at the earliest.

Theresa May is set to outline the conclusions of the defence review to the leaders of Nato’s 28 other member states, including President Trump, at the defence union's summit in Brussels on July 11 and 12. 

She will then meet with the President when he visits the UK shortly after.

One Government source told the paper: “They will want the prime minister to be able to give a very clear direction of what the UK is bringing to the table.

“There is a feeling that the Americans expect more from the UK as a partner of choice.”

Another added: “We are facing a profound moment for Britain and its place in the world and signalling whether or not post-Brexit we are going to be an ambitious, leading nation or one that is going in retreat.”

It comes as military officers and Ministry of Defence civil servants have been drawing up the modernising defence programme, after Mr Williamson argued for defence to be removed from a broader review of security capability last year. 

However a defence source told The Times: “Everyone believes it is a damp squib...

“We have been here before. It is going to be the famed fudge as it always is.”

A spokeswoman for the MoD said: “The defence secretary launched the modernising defence programme to strengthen our armed forces in the face of intensifying threats and we have been consulting widely . . . Any talk on the outcome is pure speculation before we share our headline conclusions.”

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