UK-US special relationship ‘must be based on pragmatism, not nostalgia’

By Richard Norton-Taylor
Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Shadow defence secretary will use speech in Washington to call for European Nato members to contribute more.

Britain must adopt a new, pragmatic approach to the “special relationship” with the US that is based neither on ideology nor nostalgia, the shadow defence secretary, Jim Murphy, will tell Americans in a speech in Washington.

He will also challenge a growing assumption that Britain should merely buy military equipment off the shelf from the US and say that European members of Nato must contribute far more to defence and to making their armed forces more effective.

“In the new security landscape we must assess where and when the UK-US partnership adds value. It is neither a prerequisite nor a luxury,” he will warn. “We have vital and historic links which foster an undoubted and important solidarity. Neither ideology nor nostalgia, however, will ensure we benefit from our close links in today’s world, and so pragmatism should define our approach.”

Murphy will tell an audience of American defence industrialists on Wednesday: “Our publics are wary and weary. The US is experiencing international reticence … At the same time the financial crisis has strengthened protectionist instincts, and so while multilateralist internationalism is more necessary than ever our scope to pool power is limited by sceptical domestic populations.”

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