Daniel Kawczynski (Shrewsbury and Atcham) (Con)
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline is a gas pipeline being constructed on the bottom of the Baltic sea between Russia and Germany. It is bypassing all of our allies in central and eastern Europe, fellow NATO partners that have in the past been put under the most extraordinary pressure by the Russians over energy supplies. That is why I am so concerned about this project for the security of NATO and our responsibilities to our allies in central and eastern Europe.
Although it is not possible for many Members of Parliament to be in the Chamber this evening, we have written to the Prime Minister in the past. Over 35 Conservative Members of Parliament have co-signed a letter on this issue to the Prime Minister, and there are many more in other parties who also have grave concerns about this project.
I can understand why, during the Brexit negotiations and indeed when we were negotiating a trade agreement with the European Union, this Government may have expressed a certain amount of caution on this issue. Taking into consideration the extraordinary power of Germany within the European Union and the extraordinary power that Germany has over the European Commission, it may not have been wise for the United Kingdom at that juncture to follow our American partners and others in agitating on this issue.
Nevertheless, that time has now passed, and we are now an independent sovereign nation state. We are also a permanent member of the UN Security Council—a privilege peculiar to only five countries in the world—as well as the fifth largest economy in the world and arguably the strongest military power on our continent. With those extraordinary privileges and attributes for Britain come extraordinary responsibility, and that is why I believe this Government must now take a lead on our continent in having this project stopped.
The project is a threat to NATO security and cohesion. Now, with North Macedonia joining our alliance, we have 30 members of this most successful military alliance. I think it is like being a member of a special club with a gold American Express card. This is one of the most successful military alliances in the world, but we do not just have responsibility in protecting our fellow NATO members from invasion; we also have a duty of care, in the letter and the spirit of our obligations under NATO, to ensure that our NATO partners in central and eastern Europe are not blackmailed and intimidated by the Russians over energy supplies. The Americans understand this. They understand the great threat to NATO, but also to the continent of Europe, in allowing this project to come to fruition. It is very close to completion, but it still can be stopped.
I know there are many here who do not particularly respect former President Trump, but he said the wisest thing that I have heard so far when he sat at a table with the Secretary-General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, and said to them, “You expect us to send troops to Poland and the Baltic states, and to protect you. You expect us to spend hundreds of billions of pounds every decade in protecting your continent, yet you—the Secretary-General of NATO—are allowing one NATO partner,” namely Germany, “to, for its own reasons, create this direct link with Russia, giving the Russians an umbilical cord for the export of their gas.” We have all heard about the terrible trouble the Russian economy is in already. This is an umbilical cord from the heart of Europe to Russia, giving it the extraordinary opportunity of not only exporting to Europe, but putting our NATO allies under threat.