In Brief

Mike Pompeo warns UK special relationship is under threat

US Secretary of State says military investment is key to cross-Atlantic relations

The US Secretary of State has warned that the so-called “special relationship” will be in jeopardy unless the UK continues to invest in its military.

During a visit to London to deliver the annual Margaret Thatcher Lecture, Mike Pompeo said: “The relationship between the US and Britain has an important military element to it.”

As Washington plans to spend $750bn on the American military, Pompeo added: “The UK needs to continue to reinvest in its military capabilities, whether it is its special forces or its navy. It needs to continue to invest so that it will continue to have the capabilities that can complement our very special relationship.”

He also urged the UK to resist efforts by Huawei to gain access to Britain’s new 5G network, claiming China is determined to divide the west through the use of technology.

Referring to Margaret Thatcher, he said to his audience: “Ask yourself: would the Iron Lady be silent when China violates the sovereignty of nations through corruption or coercion?”

Washington has told its allies not to use Huawei’s equipment because of the risk that it could be used as a method for Chinese spying. The company categorically denies the suggestion.

The Daily Telegraph says Pompeo wants Britain and other European allies to “support Washington’s sanctions policy against Iran” rather an “undermining it by attempting to continue doing business with the ayatollahs”.

According to The Guardian, Pompeo's appeal was to the “Conservative right” to be the frontline of opposition in the Huawei deal. The Washington Examiner said Pompeo combined “confidence in the special relationship with an honest call to recognise Chinese aggression”. 

The South China Morning Post said the speech saw Pompeo “ramp up pressure” on London to “exclude Chinese telecoms company Huawei from its 5G network”.

Pompeo said there was hardly any “daylight” between London and Washington’s positions on Iran, even though the two countries have differences over the nuclear deal.

“When it comes to the threat from Iran they understand that the Islamic Republic of Iran is underwriting Hezbollah,” he said of the British government. He added: “Our goal is not to hurt Iran or the Iranian people. Our goal is to have Iran behave like a normal nation.”

Turning to Brexit, Pompeo promised that the UK would be at the front of the queue for any free trade deal if it left the European Union. He wished the UK “godspeed” in reaching a decision, adding that the Trump administration would back whatever conclusion was finally reached.

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