Britain’s Labour Party has been forced to apologize for remarks made about Denmark and Belgium by Admiral Lord West, the former First Sea Lord.
Insisting that the United Kingdom is still a top-tier military power, West decried the aforementioned European countries as “second rate.”
West’s comments were delivered to reporters at Labour headquarters in London after the party issued its findings of as 10-month review into defense procurement, which is designed to derive better value for purchases made on behalf of the UK's armed forces.
''This business of a second-tier power -- we are probably, depending on what figures you use, the fifth or sixth wealthiest nation in the world,” West told the gathering.
''We have the largest percentage of our GDP on exports, apart from the tiny countries around the world, we run world shipping from the UK, we are the largest European investor in South Asia, south east Asia (and) the Pacific Rim, so our money and our wealth depends on this global scene.”
Lord West added: “We are a permanent member of the (United Nations) Security Council and I think that gives us certain clout and certain ability. These mean we are not a second-tier power. We are not bloody Denmark or Belgium, and if we try to become that, I think we would be worse-off as a result. I get slightly annoyed at this sort of statement.''
Lord West ran the Royal Navy from 2002 to 2006.
Labour's shadow defense secretary Jim Murphy, who sat next to West during the embarrassing harangue, told reporters: For any friends from Belgium or Denmark, apologies. Or should I say former friends from Belgium or Denmark?
Defense Secretary Liam Fox condemned West’s comments.
I'm appalled to hear Labour's Lord West insulting Denmark and Belgium, both of whom have been operating alongside British forces in Libya,” he said.
Forty-two Danes have lost their lives fighting alongside us in Helmand (Afghanistan). Lord West's remarks are both stupid and insensitive.
According to the British newspaper the Daily Telegraph, Denmark has 750 troops fighting in Afghanistan and Belgium has 520.