Starmer heads to Washington for historic Nato summit after making first Parliamentary speech as Prime Minister

9 July 2024, 18:58 | Updated: 9 July 2024, 19:21

American defence expert: 'We don't have time to lose'

Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Sir Keir Starmer is on his way to Washington for an historic 75th Nato summit after making his first Parliamentary speech as Prime Minister.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

It follows warnings that the UK desperately needs to increase defence spending, with the former head of the British Army warning World War 3 could break out within five years.

Meanwhile, a former Pentagon official told LBC the UK needs to prioritise defence spending over other social issues such as education.

Labour has promised to increase defence spending to 2.5 per cent of GDP, though has not given a firm date on when this will take place.

Asked about the stance, Jim Townsend told LBC’s Andrew Marr: “That just cannot be the thinking now, just like it couldn’t have been the thinking in the late 1930s, when Hitler was on the horizon.”

Mr Townsend added: “We’re in a very, very similar situation today, including in the United States. We don’t have time to lose.

“We would like to spend more money in the US on education and a lot of social ills that we have, but we are going to have to spend more money on defence. The money is beginning to come out of Congress.

“We need the UK with us.”

Starmer is on his way to the Nato summit
Starmer is on his way to the Nato summit. Picture: Getty
Keir Starmer Departs For Washington On First Foreign Trip As UK Prime Minister
Keir Starmer Departs For Washington On First Foreign Trip As UK Prime Minister. Picture: Getty

Mr Townsend issued a stark warning about the state of the UK defence, saying the US' view on the British army is largely nostalgic.

“There’s too few of them, there’s not enough. You see that stretch the UK military during the Houthi attack, when only a handful of planes can take part,” Mr Townsend added.

Read More: 'They tried to kill children': Doctor speaks of horror as death toll rises to 41 following Ukraine hospital attack

Read More: Russia ‘cannot claim ignorance’, Zelenskyy says, as 31 killed in attacks on Ukraine including children’s hospital

It follows a warning by the former head of the British Army, General Sir Patrick Sanders, who said WW3 could break out within the next five years.

The "axis of evil" involving Russia, China and Iran even represent more of a threat than the Nazis in the 1930s, Sir Patrick added.

Former head of the British Army, General Sir Patrick Sanders
Former head of the British Army, General Sir Patrick Sanders. Picture: Alamy

"They are more interdependent and more aligned than the original axis powers were," he told The Times.

"Most estimates will tell you that we've got somewhere between five and 10 years before Russia recapitalises and is able to pose the sort of threat that it did before the Ukraine war," Sir Patrick continued.

"If we take the right steps now, if we address the threats and gaps we have in our capability, if we modernise our armed forces, if we make society and the UK more resilient, that's how we prevent it."

If we do that, it's a low likelihood. If we don't, it increases the probability and it encourages Russia, China and Iran."

Sir Patrick said that the current size of the Army is so small it would not be able to launch operations as was seen in Iraq in 2003, or even the Falkland Islands during Margaret Thatcher's premiership in 1982.

"Could you scramble together the two brigades that took the Falklands? Yes, of course we could," Sir Patrick said.

"But could we get them there? Could we have the task force that made it possible and sustain it? No."

He added that if he revealed the official size of the army, the figure would "put the hairs up on the back of your neck".

Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin. Picture: Getty

Sir Patrick's warnings come after Russia launched a series of attacks across Ukraine on Monday, killing 41 people.

One of the sites hit in the strikes include Okhmatdyt children's hospital.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Mother of jailed Just Stop Oil campaigner complains daughter will miss brother's wedding after she blocked M25

Mother of jailed Just Stop Oil campaigner complains daughter will miss brother's wedding after she blocked M25

Breaking
Rene Graham was killed on Sunday July 21

Teen victim of west London park shooting named and pictured for the first time

Kamala Harris has praised Joe Biden

Kamala Harris pays tribute to 'unmatched' legacy of Joe Biden in first speech since he pulled out of election

Police said they attended the residence at Wexford Road, Coventry at around 12.15pm on Monday following an emergency 999 call

Woman in her 30s killed after being mauled by pet dog at home in Coventry

Secret Service boss Kimberly Cheatle denied claims she failed to provide Trump with adequate protection.

'We failed': Secret service boss brands Donald Trump shooting 'most significant failure in decades'

One of Britain's oldest cricket clubs bans players from hitting sixes after neighbours complain of damaged property

One of Britain's oldest cricket clubs bans players from hitting sixes after neighbours complain of damaged property

Anand Runwal jumped in front of the train to try to save his children

Pictured: Hero father who jumped in front of train to try to save his twin daughters, whose pushchair rolled onto tracks

The moment a sexual predator lured a 14-year-old schoolgirl to a guesthouse where he later raped her has been caught on camera.

Chilling footage captures sex predator luring schoolgirl, 14, to guesthouse before raping her after plying teen with alcohol

Migrants heading to Britain. Home Secretary Yvette cooper today revealed the scheme cost £700m and saw only four volunteers sent to Africa

Rwanda deportation scheme cost £700m and saw just four volunteers sent to Africa, Home Secretary reveals

Piccadilly line to partially close for 16 days in August causing major disruption for commuters and Arsenal fans

Piccadilly line to partially close for 16 days in August causing major disruption for commuters and Arsenal fans

Strictly pro dancer Janette Manrara breaks her silence following claims by former contestant Will Bayley

Strictly dancer Janette Manrara breaks silence following contestant's 'life-changing' injury claims

President of Croatia Zoran Milanović described the attack as a "savage unprecedented crime".

Several killed as gunman opens fire in Croatian care home

A boy was pronounced dead at the scene in Ladbroke Grove

Gunman 'jumped from bushes to assassinate 15-year-old boy' on 'family fun day' at west London park

Search for murdered Muriel McKay's remains called off by police after 'unsuccessful' farm dig

Search for murdered Muriel McKay's remains called off by police after 'unsuccessful' farm dig

Nuclear submariner Marcus Gauntlett is under investigation

Royal Navy sailor accused of stealing secrets from nuclear submarine after 'documents found on phone'

Alex Dancyg and Yagev Buchshtab died while being held in Gaza.

Israel confirms deaths of two hostages in Gaza ahead of ceasefire talks