London – The British government announced on Monday that it will be a “strong partner” for Germany in what was seen as a response to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s statements that London and Washington cannot be depended on as allies.
British Home Secretary Amber Rudd told the BBC that at a time when Britain is preparing itself for Brexit negotiations, it can reassure Germany and other European countries that “we will remain strong partners for them in defense and security.”
“We can reassure Mrs. Merkel that we want to have a deep and special partnership so that we can continue to maintain European-wide security to keep us all safe from the terrorists abroad and those that are trying to be nurtured in our country,” she said.
Merkel had declared during an electoral campaign in Munich on Sunday that “the times in which we could completely depend on others are on the way out. I’ve experienced that in the last few days.”
“We, the Europeans, will have to take our fate into our own hands. Our friendship with the US, the UK, our neighborly relationship with Russia and also with other countries count, of course. But we must know, we have to fight for our own future,” she added.
Germany’s exasperation was laid bare after the G7 summit which wrapped up on Saturday with the US refusing so far to sign up to upholding the 2015 Paris climate accord. The summit was attended by UK Prime Minister Theresa May and US President Donald Trump.
The German leader’s comments also elicited reactions from two minor British opposition parties, the Liberal Democrats and the UK Independence Party.
“The Prime Minister has allied herself with Donald Trump and these comments are the inevitable outcome,” Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said.
“It doesn’t have to be this way, a vote for the Liberal Democrats can change Britain’s future and we can avoid this extreme Brexit that Theresa May is pursuing,” he said.
A spokesman for UKIP said in a statement that the European Union “has relied on the commitment of the US and the UK through NATO to defend it”.
“In that time most of our EU allies have failed to maintain their defense spending expecting that we were going to keep on paying forever,” he said.
“The rest of the EU has been undependable for decades, it’s a bit rich of them to complain now. Never when the storm clouds have gathered has the UK turned its back,” the spokesman added.
“Being dependable does not mean being a pushover Mrs. Merkel, it means doing what we believe to be right for our country, and by extension, the world”.
Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel continued his country’s criticism of Trump, saying: “Anyone who accelerates climate change by weakening environmental protection, who sells more weapons in conflict zones and who does not want to politically resolve religious conflicts is putting peace in Europe at risk.”
“The short-sighted policies of the American government stand against the interests of the European Union,” he said, judging that “the West has become smaller, at least it has become weaker”.