Boris Johnson to make Nato unity plea amid rising tensions between leaders

Posted On: 
3rd December 2019

Boris Johnson is to make an urgent plea for Nato unity amid rising tension within the military alliance.

Boris Johnson with French president Emmanuel Macron.
Credit: 
PA Images

The Prime Minister will speak out as he hosts a summit to mark the 70th anniversary of the creation of the organisation in the wake of the Second World War.

France and Turkey have been at loggerheads over the war in Syria, while Donald Trump continues to demand that Nato's members spend more money on defence.

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A Downing Street spokesman said: "The PM will emphasise that all members should be united behind shared priorities so Nato can adapt to the challenges ahead.

"The PM’s position is that Nato is the most successful and enduring alliance in military history and that it continues to adapt to the evolving threats that we face.

"It’s the cornerstone of Euro-Atlantic security and it helps to keep a billion people safe."

French president Emmanuel Macron has accused Nato's approach to the Turkish incursion into Syria as "brain dead".

That sparked an angry response from Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who accused his French counterpart as suffering from "brain death".

Both men will attend a meeting in Number 10 on Tuesday alongside Mr Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss the situation in Syria.

They will be among the 29 leaders attending the Nato summit, which kicks off with a reception at Buckingham Palace, followed by another in Downing Street, on Tuesday evening.

On Wednesday,  the leaders will meet at the Grove Hotel in Hertfordshire to "reflect on the last 70 years and discuss issues affecting the Alliance including Nato missions, member states’ spending and Nato’s role in responding to threats around the world". 

Nato members agreed to spend 2% of their country's GDP on defence at a summit in Wales in 2014. But President Trump has previously condemned those countries which are still failing to hit that target.

A spokesman for Mr Johnson said: "The Prime Minister will view it as an opportunity to reflect on Nato’s past successes but also to look forward to the challenges that are facing the alliance, including the new domains of space and cyber.

"It’s the first meeting of Nato allies in the UK since the 2014 Nato summit and following Nato members’ commitments at that summit to spend 2% of GDP on defence, non-US allies defence budgets have increased by an additional $130bn in the last three years."

Meanwhile, Tory Party bosses are anxious that President Trump does not intervene in the UK election campaign, fearing that his endorsement of Boris Johnson could be a boost for Labour.

Both men are expected to hold bilateral talks on the margins of the summit, but there will be no joint-press conference.