EXCL EU army would ‘line up’ continent for Third World War, warns senior Tory
The creation of an EU army would “line up” the continent for another world war, a senior Conservative MP has declared.
Julian Lewis, chair of the Defence Select Committee, warned that an aggressor would take “liberties” if Brussels created its own defence force.
He also suggested the UK was facing a similar threat level to the 1980s with an aggressive Russia and domestic terror risks, as he called for defence spending to rise to 3% of GDP.
And the former Tory frontbencher warned Article 5 of Nato could be made “incredible” if the alliance continues with its “open door” membership policy.
In an interview with the House magazine, Mr Lewis argued Donald Trump could be the only person to succeed in forcing European countries in Nato to spend 2% of GDP on defence.
He claimed that the two World Wars could have been prevented if Germany understood the US would enter the conflicts on day one, and that an aggressor, such as Russia, could make similar incursions now if an EU army is created.
“We [the UK] need to be spending something like 3% of GDP [on defence] and our European Nato allies must spend considerably more than they’re doing,” he said.
“I am reasonably hopeful that the Trump administration will force them to realise this, because if they were to be reckless enough to think that they could go it alone and somehow create a defence identity without the United States being a part of it, then all they would be doing would be lining up the continent for a repeat of what happened twice in the first half of the 20th Century.”
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has argued a “community of defence” is required in Europe amid concerns the US will now withdraw from its leading role in Nato.
The push for an EU army has caused alarm in Britain, with MPs and security experts warning the UK could find itself isolated if the bloc established its own defence force and the US turned away from Nato.
Mr Lewis said such a scenario would be a “dire prospect”, but insisted Mr Trump would not ebb away from Nato and could in fact be its saviour by forcing other members to cough up more cash.
Elsewhere Mr Lewis said the UK was spending around 3% of GDP less on defence than it did in the 1980s, despite facing similar threats.
“I would say that we are approaching the sort of threat level that we had in the 1980s,” he said.
“I’m not saying we’re back there yet, but we are facing serious problems that could if mishandled spiral out of control.
"It’s not hard to see how that could happen if there were miscalculations either by the EU with its pretensions to its own foreign and defence policy, or by the Russians thinking that they could take liberties with the Baltic States, for example, even though they’re now members of Nato and subject to the Article 5 guarantee.
“So if you want to minimise the danger of the potential threats becoming actual crises, the best way to do it is to send a signal to your possible adversaries that you are investing heavily in defence and deterrents. And that way they will not be tempted to take liberties.
“We are in a situation now where we are spending only a fraction of what we should be spending if we wanted to have the level of reliability and assuredness that would make any potential aggressor think twice before embarking on some military adventurism in Europe.”
The UK currently spends 2% of GDP on defence.
The Defence Select Committee chair also warned that Article 5 of the Nato treaty – the principle that an attack against one is an attack against all – could be undermined if the alliance continues with its current membership policy.
“If we carry on with an open door policy for Nato, there is a danger that Article 5 could become incredible,” he said.
But Mr Lewis said he understood why the Baltic States had been taken into the alliance in 2004, and defended Nato’s actions on the border with Russia.
“What we’re doing is we are sending them an open and unmistakeable signal that the Baltic States now come under the protection of Article 5 and they cannot, must not and dare not make the fatal assumption of thinking they could pick one of them off and we wouldn’t react,” he said.
“Because if we didn’t react, then we would at a stroke take ourselves back to the scenario of 1914, and especially 1939 when it would be possible for an aggressor to think right, I got away with this one, so I’m going to try the next one and the next one and the next one.
“The result of that would be exactly the same, sooner or later they would overreach themselves, they’d take one step too far and they’d find themselves involved in a global conflict which they themselves did not wish to precipitate.”