CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

DExEU – PRESIDENT TRUMP & ATLANTIC ALLIANCE – 18 January 2017

Danny Kinahan: Does the right hon. Gentleman [Sir Nicholas Soames] agree that we need to put all the pressure we can on President Trump to make sure that NATO stays in place and that ​we build on our security around that? There is a real fear that he may not want that, in which case the pressures will change.

Sir Nicholas Soames: I very strongly agree with the hon. Gentleman. That is very important. I have high hopes that the Prime Minister, when she visits President Trump, will make those points clearly. I hope President Trump will say something in his inauguration speech that will clarify what he meant by “obsolete” in relation to NATO. I am not offended by that. I was discussing it with the Chairman of the Select Committee on Defence, my right hon. Friend the Member for New Forest East (Dr Lewis), and I do not think that President Trump meant it as an insult. It is true that there is much about NATO that is highly unsatisfactory and obsolete, not least because many countries do not pay their fair whack. It is very slow to transform and is not equipped for the new asymmetric hybrid versions of warfare that we will have to contend with, or as advanced as Russia, as has been seen in its unbelievably bad behaviour in Crimea.

Dr Julian Lewis: Before my right hon. Friend gets back to his main oration, I would like to draw attention to the context in which President Trump was reported. He said that NATO is extremely important to him. He seems to be using the word “obsolete” in the sense that NATO needs to be not abolished but modernised to face new threats. We should not read too much into the nuances of the individual words he speaks, because nuance does not seem to be his style.

Sir Nicholas Soames: My right hon. Friend is spot-on, and I am sure these matters will play out. If one looks at the wonderful success of the security architecture designed by those wise men and women after the last great war, one sees how well it has served the world in peace, and in good times and bad times. This does not seem to me a sensible time to do anything other than support it. ...