Despite claiming to be conservatives, David Cameron and Theresa May have presided over an erosion of Britain’s armed forces which is unprecedented in our history.
Britannia once ruled the seas, and many times saved the nation and the world from subjugation, brutality and tyranny – in the defeat of the Spanish Armada, in the battles against Napoleon, and most importantly the defeat of the Nazis in the Second World War.
Since then Britain’s military has been distinguished in its strength and mission to fight for freedom. In the eighties, we successfully defended the Falklands. Soon afterwards, due to the strength of NATO, the Berlin Wall fell as Soviet and Eastern European communism crumbled, setting free another 30 countries from the grip of tyranny. More recently our troops have been deployed in battling ISIS and the new Islamist tyranny, driven by people with a hideous desire to re-create a literal seventh-century-style Islamic caliphate, where the whole world is ruled by the iron fist of Sharia law.
With such a glorious history, one would think that our armed forces and those who serve in them should be honoured and supported for the sacrifices they have made and still make today. Above all, a so-called ‘Conservative’ government should honour the Military Covenant. Yet it has not been honoured. While the government has committed itself to increasing spending on highly dubious ‘overseas development’, it has slashed spending on the military. Defence spending was lower in 2017 than when Cameron took office in 2010.
But that is not the worst of it: the armed forces are being set up for the greatest betrayal in history. From the beginning of the Brexit negotiations in March 2017, Mrs May promised that she would not use security and defence as a bargaining chip. Taken at face value, that sounds good; even on leaving the EU, we will still be trading partners, friends and allies with the nations of Europe, and joint members of NATO.
Yet, instead of a commitment simply to co-operate, the EU has been quietly strengthening its defence architecture. It has multiple threads and below the radar, the UK has been quietly signed up to many of the new structures.
The European Defence Agency (EDA) was set up in 2004 to facilitate military co-operation across the EU. In April 2017, the European Defence Fund (EDF) was created, which goes much further and has the aim of integrating military capability with a multi-billion-euro annual budget funded by member states.
The European Defence Procurement Directive (EDPD) forced governments to open up procurement of defence equipment to all suppliers in the EU, rather than being allowed to buy from whomever they choose. This is vital for the sensitive area of defence, and the UK was of course the most affected by the directive as we have the largest military.
The EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) sets the EU’s policy for member states to obey. The UK sends troops to the 18 EU Battlegroups – battalions of 1,500 men which are under the direct command of Brussels to implement the demands of the CSDP.
Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) strengthens the existing defence architecture and further integrates member states’ military operations. After a public outcry at the time, the UK did not join, but it is not entirely off the table.
Nigel Farage said in 2015 that remaining in the EU meant that eventually our armed forces would be subsumed into an EU Army. He was ridiculed at the time by Nick Clegg, who called it a ‘dangerous fantasy’. Yet Farage’s prediction is coming true and taking shape before our eyes. Jean-Claude Juncker has recently stated he wants an EU Defence Union to be in place by 2025, even though most EU countries still flagrantly ignore their NATO treaty commitments to contribute 2 per cent of gross national income to defence, and expect to be carried by the USA and the UK.
Even worse is that the UK may be signed up to be part of an EU army even if we leave the EU. The way this is being planned is deviously clever. Civil servants were taped comparing ongoing commitments to the EU defence programmes to a ‘KitKat’, meaning there would be a political cover hiding a series of separate agreements.
Buried on page 18 of a long government document called ‘Foreign Policy, Defence and Development – A Future Partnership Paper’ is a statement that co-operation ‘should take as its starting point both our shared interests and the degree of engagement that has evolved through our membership of the EU’. This is a clear commitment to remain an integral part of all of these schemes, and will sign us up to being a full part of the EU’s defence architecture. Page 19 of the same paper discusses ‘a continued contribution to CSDP missions and operations, including UK personnel, expertise, assets, or use of established UK national command and control facilities’.
Even if we leave the EU with no deal, Mrs May is likely to commit the UK to remain in the EU’s defence architecture, meaning that our armed forces will not be leaving the EU and will be permanently entangled in the EDA, CSDP, EDPD, EDF, PESCO and EU Battlegroups and any other new structures and schemes which the EU creates. Such a treaty would be wholly unnecessary as we already co-operate with all but a few small EU countries via NATO, and it could jeopardise and conflict with our membership of the far more important ‘Five Eyes’ security and intelligence alliance with the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
If we are to be a truly independent nation, we cannot have our armed forces controlled by a foreign power in Brussels. It must be under the full control of the government in London and the British generals and commanders in the field.
Despite the neglect from the Conservative-In-Name-Only government of the last eight years, the UK still has the most powerful and effective military in Europe. The EU is desperate to keep the UK inside to control our economy and our armed forces, but leave should mean leave, and leaving in full. The campaigning group ‘Veterans For Britain’ puts its well: ‘The UK should leave all EU defence rules, policies and structures on 29th March 2019.’ Anything less will be a sell-out of our armed forces.
Unfortunately, we have a government in London which does not want to be in full control of our armed forces or our nation. The Bill of Rights of 1689 declares that ‘no foreign prince, person, prelate, state, or potentate hath, or ought to have any jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence, or authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual, within this realm’.
No true conservative would sell out our armed forces or give control over any part of our nation to a foreign power. Theresa May should remember this. If she does not, she must go.