close
close

Starmer and wife Victoria land in Washington DC for Nato and Biden meeting as PM accused of ‘playing with fire’

Starmer and wife Victoria land in Washington DC for Nato and Biden meeting as PM accused of ‘playing with fire’

SIR Keir Starmer landed in Washington DC today for a crucial Nato summit amid growing pressure to rapidly increase defence spending.

The Prime Minister, accompanied on his trip by his wife Lady Victoria, will meet US President Joe Biden and European leaders to discuss strengthening the alliance in an increasingly unstable world.

3

Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer and his wife Victoria disembark from their plane at Joint Base Andrews in Washington to attend the 75th anniversary NATO summitCredits: AP

3

The Prime Minister landed in the early hours of the morning UK timeCredits: Simon Dawson / 10 Downing Street

3

On board the plane to Washington DC, Sir Keir answered questions from reporters about Britain’s commitment to increase defence spending.Credits: AP

Against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine and a Middle East in the grip of a powder keg, Sir Keir faces urgent calls to approve a date for his pledge to increase defence spending to 2.5% of GDP.

Philip Ingram, a former colonel in British military intelligence, told The Times that the prime minister was “playing with fire” by delaying the timetable for the increase.

He said: “The threat is there today and it will take years to rebuild the army, repair our munitions stocks and prepare the RAF and navy.”

This morning Armed Forces Minister Luke Pollard has insisted on a new strategy goodbye in defense spending, starting following week, will chart the course towards 2.5 percent.

The analysis will focus on Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, instability in the Middle East and the rise of authoritarian countries such as China and Iran.

It will also examine the British Army’s capabilities in the face of growing threats.

Mr Pollard told Times Radio: “This will be a first for NATO in terms of a strategic defence review, focusing on our unwavering commitment to the North Atlantic and the European area, to ensure that we are not only keeping the UK safe, but also our allies safe.

“Because if we don’t support Ukraine and if it doesn’t win, Russia won’t stop there.”

In the US, Sir Keir will tell NATO’s 75th anniversary meeting that he is determined to confront our adversaries.

The prime minister is expected to tell the summit – his first foreign trip since taking office – that the spending boost will help preserve the alliance.

Sir Keir said: “There is no more important duty for me as Prime Minister than ensuring the safety of the people of our country.

“As we face multiple threats at home and abroad, we must ensure that we are prepared to defend ourselves.

“That is why I have immediately ordered a comprehensive review that will secure Britain’s defences for the future.

“Working with our most important partners around the world, our Strategic Defence Review will ensure the UK sends a clear message to those who seek to undermine peace and democracy: you will not succeed.”

The Prime Minister will make clear to his fellow leaders that he is determined to ensure the UK is a “leading defence actor” on the world stage – stressing that Western allies will “triumph over tyranny”.

But the pressure to reach 2.5 percent target Tensions have been rising since Russia bombed a Ukrainian children’s hospital on Monday.

Asked about the issue by reporters on the plane to Washington, Sir Keir said: “We are committed to getting to 2.5 per cent, as I said before the election and I will say after the election.

“It obviously depends on our budgetary rules, but the commitment is there.

“The strategic review will take place next week and we will clarify the details.

“The manifesto commitment was that it would happen within a year, I would like it to be quicker than that, if I’m honest, and we will work out the details of how we’re going to do it.”

Admiral Lord West, a former navy chief and former Labour security minister, said: “There is no doubt that our forces are exhausted.

“There are serious doubts about the ability of the armed forces to do what the nation expects of them and we need to spend some time on that. money urgently.”

Starmer could boost armed forces

By Harry Goodwin

Prime Minister Keir Starmer said last night that the UK had made a “firm” commitment to spending 2.5% of GDP on defence.

He said increased defence spending could help NATO respond to threats around the world.

Sir Keir will launch the government’s new strategic defence review next week.

The study will look at how the UK’s armed forces should evolve to meet threats such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

This could pave the way for an increase in the size of the armed forces, sources told The Telegraph.

But Sir Keir refused to give a timetable for Britain to reach the 2.5% target.