‘Joe’s being a d***’: Tories urge Rishi Sunak to block ‘anti-British’ Biden’s bid to install ‘disaster’ EU chief Ursula von der Leyen as next head of Nato – amid claims US president wants to punish PM over Ukraine pilot training deal
Having killed off Ben Wallace‘s hopes, the US president is said to be pushing for the current European Commission chief to take charge of the military alliance.
But MPs complained that Mr Biden is ‘being a d***’, after apparently being angered by Britain failing to get his approval to train Ukrainian pilots for F-16 fighter jets.
Conservatives warned that Ms von der Leyen was the ‘worst ever’ German defence minister before becoming commission president. On her watch Berlin’s troops notoriously trained with broomsticks on Nato exercises because they did not have enough rifles.
Former minister David Jones urged Mr Sunak to block the move. ‘He should certainly not be too anxious to support her,’ he told the Telegraph.
‘The worry is that the EU is pursuing permanent structured co-operation, which is detracting from the integrity of Nato. Von der Leyen has been a keen proponent of it.’
Another senior Tory MP told MailOnline the idea might fall through. ‘I think it’s Biden being a d***. She’ll probably get the backing of the French, but I can’t see Eastern allies agreeing. And Republicans don’t like the EU,’ they added.
Foreign Affairs Committee member Bob Seely said the move would be ‘good news’ for Vladimir Putin as he reels from the extraordinary coup chaos last month.
Having killed ofd Ben Wallace’s hopes, the US president is said to be pushing for the current European Commission president to take charge of the military alliance
Former minister David Jones urged Rishi Sunak (pictured at a reception last night) to block the move
Ben Wallace made a strong pitch to become Nato chief but was blocked
With the Ukraine war raging, current Nato secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, has been handed another 12 months in charge.
But that delay is widely rumoured to be part of a plan for Mrs von der Leyen to assume the post – becoming the first woman to do so – when her term at the EU ends next year.
The manoeuvring is a victory for French president Emmanuel Macron, who has been adamant that the next chief should come from an EU state rather than Britain.
Defence Secretary Mr Wallace made a strong pitch in the wake of his pivotal role in the response to the Ukraine invasion. The UK is one of the few countries that meets Nato’s military spending targets, an elite group that does not include Germany.
There were claims Mr Biden – previously branded ‘anti-British’ – ‘didn’t want to support the UK’.
The president frequently boasts about his Irish heritage and has faced accusations of being anti-British. On a recent visit to the island of Ireland, he spent a few hours in Northern Ireland before touring the Republic for days and snubbed displaying a Union Jack on his ‘Beast’ limo.
He also made a ‘joke’ about beating the ‘Black and Tans’ – an auxiliary police force deployed by Britain a century ago.
Mrs von der Leyen visited the White House in March when the US and the EU announced the beginning of negotiations for a critical minerals agreement.
Foreign Affairs Committee member Bob Seely said the move would be ‘good news’ for Vladimir Putin as he reels from the extraordinary coup chaos last month
She was also heavily involved in the talks with Rishi Sunak to finalise the Brexit deal for Northern Ireland.
There was pressure for the candidate to be a former leader, rather than a lower-ranking minister.
Mr Stoltenberg, a former Norwegian prime minister who has been Nato’s top civilian official since 2014, said he was ‘honoured’ by the decision to extend his term and ‘in a more dangerous world, our alliance is more important than ever’.
Nato’s leaders will meet in Lithuania next week, where a decision on a successor could be made.
Mr Wallace had pushed to become the first Briton to lead the alliance since 2003, but lacked the necessary support – particularly from the US, the largest military power in Nato.