Former Nato chief urges more defence cash

Former Nato chief General Sir Richard Shirreff has called on the Government to “show leadership” and increase the UK’s defence spending in the face of rising threats to national security.

Leaders Richard Shirref 1Sir Richard, who served as Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe from 2011 to 2014, said the country needed to raise its defence budget to more than two per cent of its GDP – even if that meant cuts in other areas.

A long-time critic of defence cuts and the author of book that warns of the risk of an impending conflict with Russia, he was the guest speaker at Lancashire Business View’s Lancashire Leaders event, held last night at Northcote Manor, near Langho.

More than 50 invited leaders from the worlds of business, higher education and the public sector attended the dinner and heard Sir Richard speak on his experiences in the military and his views on leadership.

In an interview with Lancashire Business View, Sir Richard, who served in the Gulf War, Northern Ireland and Iraq during his distinguished military career, said all Nato countries in Europe must pay more for their protection.

Sir Richard also spoke of the threat to the defence alliance’s future and the need for US President Trump to fully declare his commitment to European security.

He said: “Unless Mr Trump steps forward with his commitment as president to come to the aid of any Nato member under attack, Nato begins to unravel and that is really dangerous.”

Leaders Richard Shirref 2Sir Richard said the president was right to call for European countries to pay more for their defence and cast doubt on whether the UK was meeting the two per cent commitment required of Nato members.

Calling for “moral courage” from political leaders, Sir Richard, who has a new career as a risk management consultant, said he wrote his book, published last year, “as a wake-up call”. He said: “If we are to do what needs to be done, the nation needs to be prepared to make sacrifices in social welfare spending and other areas.” He added: “Leadership is the ability to explain the threats and challenges. We need to bite the bullet and increase our defence spending.”

  • A fuller interview with Sir Richard and full coverage of the Lancashire Leaders event will appear in the next issue of Lancashire Business View.