- The UK threatens to tear up its defence alliance with the US after Trump’s Iran crisis triggers a rupture between the two countries.
- UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace says that the UK is looking to forge stronger alliances with other international partners which share its priorities.
- He says the US risks “[withdrawing] from its leadership” of the world under Trump.
- Wallace also reveals Trump threatened to tear up its intelligence-sharing relationship with the UK.
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Donald Trump’s decision to assassinate Qassem Soleimani has triggered a major rupture between the United States and its historically closest ally in the United Kingdom.
In remarkably outspoken comments, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said on Sunday that Trump’s isolationist foreign policy stance meant the UK was now looking for alternative allies around the world.
“I worry if the United States withdraws from its leadership around the world,” he told the Sunday Times.
He added: “The assumptions of 2010 that we were always going to be part of a US coalition is really just not where we are going to be.”
The comments came after Boris Johnson’s government distanced itself from the attack last week, with the UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab labelling it a “dangerous escalation,” which risked a conflict in which “terrorists would be the only winners.”
A spokesman for the Prime Minister was also quick to condemn Trump’s threats to target Iranian cultural sites as a breach of international law and a potential war crime.
With the Iran crisis ongoing, the UK is now openly threatening to tear up its longstanding defence partnership with the United States.
The US ‘withdraws from its leadership’ of the world under Trump
UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told the Sunday Times that the UK was increasingly looking for alternative international allies,
“Over the last year we’ve had the US pullout from Syria, the statement by Donald Trump on Iraq where he said Nato should take over and do more in the Middle East,” Wallace said.
“The assumptions of 2010 that we were always going to be part of a US coalition is really just not where we are going to be.”
Wallace said the UK would need to reduce its dependence on US military assets.
“We are very dependent on American air cover and American intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets. We need to diversify our assets.”
Wallace told the paper that the UK would increasingly need to turn to other allies that more closely share the UK’s interests.
“Regardless of what the US does… we are going to have to make decisions that allow us to stand with a range of allies, the Five Eyes [intelligence partnership with America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand] and our European allies where our interests converge,” he said.
Trump is threatening to cut intelligence ties with the UK
Wallace also revealed that the Trump administration had threatened to cut off its intelligence sharing partnership with the UK, if Johnson’s government pursued its plan to allow the Chinese telecoms company Huawei a role in Britain’s 5G network.
“They have repeatedly said that. They have been clear about that,” he told the paper.
“President Trump, the national security adviser. The defence secretary said it personally to me directly when we met at Nato. It’s not a secret. They have been consistent. Those things will be taken into account when the government collectively decides to make a decision on it.”
He added: “Friends and enemies that are independent make you choose.”