Angela Merkel's speech was a blunder and risks becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy

First, it is a mistake to allow four months of the Trump presidency to throw into doubt a Transatlantic alliance that has kept the peace in Europe for 70 years. It may come to that. But it is also possible that Mr Trump is an aberration and will soon be out of office.

Second, the US president actually had a valid point to make about the failure of most European countries to meet Nato targets on military expenditure. Mr Trump’s behaviour in Europe was crass. But his argument that it is unsustainable for the US to account for almost 75 per cent of Nato defence spending is correct — and was also made by Robert Gates, defence secretary for President Obama. Given that Germany has been freeriding on American military spending, it is a little cheeky to blame the US for being an unreliable ally.

Third, by implying that the western alliance is now coming apart, Ms Merkel has compounded the error that Mr Trump made when he failed to endorse Article 5.

Both events will have encouraged the Russian government in its hope of breaking up the western alliance. That, in turn, makes Europe’s security situation more dangerous.

Fourth, Ms Merkel was unwise and unfair to bracket the UK with Trump’s America.

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