Why I met Donald Trump aide - by Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski
Shrewsbury & Atcham MP Daniel Kawczynski met with the man credited with masterminding Donald Trump's election success to discuss the future of Nato, the MP has revealed.
It has emerged that Mr Kawczynski met Steve Bannon in November last year.
Mr Kawczynski said he had been invited to meet Mr Bannon, who was fired by Mr Trump in August last year, along with fellow Conservative Jacob Rees-Mogg.
The MP rejected claims that the meeting was part of support for Russia, with Trump's regime and Bannon accused of having links to the country.
He described the reports as "fake news".
Mr Kawczynski said: "I was talking to him about, as I have done with many American counterparts who have visited Britain over the last six months, something I feel very strongly about which is how, in a post-Brexit world, Britain continues to work with the US, Canada, and key EU countries in ensuring we keep Nato, which is the most successful defence organisation in history, as the supreme and sole defence posture for the continent."
He said he had been prompted to have the discussions over his concerns about the creation of an EU army and a diminishing role for Nato.
Mr Kawczynski said: "There are people in the EU Commission who long-term want to throw that out and replace it with an EU army."
He said that Mr Bannon's concern with Nato centred around countries not meeting a pledge to spend at least two per cent of GDP on defence.
He said: "I think what he is not in favour of and has been very critical of, as has President Trump, is countries who do not spend the requisite two per cent of GDP on defence.
"They say it will be increasingly difficult to defend Nato to their electorate if countries do not fulfil their obligations."
Mr Kawczynski also rejected claims that he is an "apologist" for Russia.
He said: "One thing which is extremely important is standing up to the Russians and for those little countries on the front line, like Lithuania and Latvia, they are fearful of Russian expansion and that why it is important to make sure Nato is protected."
Mr Bannon was the subject of a stinging attack from the president last week, who said: "Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind."