When the UK was selected as the venue for this week’s 70th anniversary Nato summit some eight months ago it was never anticipated that it would take place in the middle of a general election campaign. Ordinarily, this gathering of allies would be an opportunity to reassert the UK’s key strategic position to counter the concerns that the country’s defences would be weakened after Brexit.
The fact is that the West’s security since 1949 has been underpinned by Nato, and not the EU in its various guises. In particular, it has been guaranteed principally by the United States, which has shown a commitment to the defence of Europe that many of the EU’s leaders seem unwilling to acknowledge. A succession of US presidents have prevailed upon European countries to spend more on their own defence and allocate at least 2 per cent of their GDP to collective security. President Trump, who will arrive in London tonight, is certain to reinforce this demand in his own distinctive way. America accounts for 70 per cent of all of Nato’s spending, largely because it spends more on defence than any country in the world.
Mr Trump is entitled to feel somewhat aggrieved by the derision and criticism he and his country often receive from those who rely upon its power and wealth to protect them from their enemies. His arrival in the middle of an election campaign will trigger the usual juvenile antics from the Left, while Tories are nervous he will do or say something that harms their campaign. But all of this nonsense can be avoided if we simply accord the leader of our closest ally the welcome his office deserves and thank the American people for their stalwart and generous defence of European liberty.