According to a military think-tank, Royal United Services Institute, France appears to be trying to take the No 2 spot from Britain in NATO.

France is arguing that the No 2 position should be an EU member state.  Something that will Britain will not be when it leaves the EU.

Britain has held the position of Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Position (DSACEUR) since NATO’s inception in 1951.  NATO has always been an American led organisation.

According to The Times newspaper, a French military delegation has lobbied Washington over the issue.  They believe that as an EU member state they are better positioned than the British for the role.

A source said, the French “were at pains to point out how useful the French military could be as an ally and their track record in getting things done in troublespots where the US was not as strong as it wished to be”.

They also pointed out that they were the only country that was military capable of taking on the role other than Britain.

The idea that France would become DSACEUR has been scoffed at by some British MPs.  Andrew Murrison, MP, tweeted, “French attempt (again) to take #NATO DSACEUR job off risky. As US pivots & Trump/?Fillon pro-Putin, Europe needs 100% UK Engagement.”

While Sir Nicholas Soames, Winston Churchill’s grandson tweeted, “We aren’t going to surrender DSACEUR under any circs”

The think-tank is also optimistic about Britain retaining its Number 2 status after Brexit. The report reads, “It is possible that the UK’s position within the NATO command structure could also be affected by leaving the EU.

“There is already some discussion of the possibility that the assignment of the position of Deputy Supreme Allied Commander (DSACEUR) to the UK, which it has held since 1951, might have to be transferred to a NATO member that is a member of the EU.

“The role of DSACEUR is central to ensuring the availability of NATO assets to certain EU missions organised under the ‘Berlin Plus’ arrangements, for example in Bosnia.”

One of Donald Trump’s campaign promises was to withdraw funding from NATO.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said, A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “We will continue to play a leading role in European security. This includes providing Nato’s deputy supreme allied commander for Europe.”