We do not believe there will be any impact on the British Armed Forces outside of the European Union.

It would be wise to look at how the United Kingdom stands on its own. The organisation European Geostrategy rate the United Kingdom as a global power, they define this as:

“A country lacking the heft or comprehensive attributes of a superpower, but still with a wide international footprint and [military] means to reach most geopolitical theatres, particularly the Middle East, South-East Asia, East Asia, Africa and South America.”

ukgpThe British Armed Forces comprise the Royal Navy, a blue-water navy with a comprehensive and advanced fleet; the Royal Marines, a highly specialised amphibious light infantry force; the British Army, the UK’s principal land warfare force; and the Royal Air Force, with a diverse operational fleet consisting of modern fixed-wing and rotary aircraft.

The country is a major participant in NATO and other coalition operations and is also party to the Five Power Defence Arrangements. Recent operations have included Afghanistan and Iraq, peacekeeping operations in the Balkans and Cyprus, intervention in Libya and again operations over Iraq and Syria.

Overseas defence facilities are maintained at Ascension Island, Belize, Brunei, Canada, Diego Garcia, the Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Kenya, Bahrain and Cyprus.

While it is not our intention to enter the referendum debate, many also argue that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is more vital to British interests than our defence relationship with the EU. NATO is a security alliance of 28 North American and European states, established by the North Atlantic Treaty in 1949. NATO’s fundamental role is to protect the freedom and security of its member states.

Britain in NATO is pivotal to the alliance. The alliance may be American-led and American-dominated, but Britain remains a vital anchor. Not only are we a fellow nuclear power, we have been the staunchest and closest military ally of the US, in terms of intelligence sharing, battlefield operations and interoperable hardware allowing the whole alliance to benefit.

Douglas Hurd of the Royal Institute for International Affairs said:

“NATO is one of the principal props which have allowed Britain to punch above its weight in the world.”

Under the auspices of NATO, the United Kingdom has been active around the world and has played a leading role in many conflicts.

The UK still retains considerable economic, cultural, military, scientific and political influence internationally. It’s a recognised nuclear weapons state and its defence budget ranks fifth or sixth in the world. The country has been a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council since its inception and has been a member state of the European Union since 1973.

Now with that out of the way, what are the chances of the United Kingdom joining an integrated European military? Well again, I’d say zero.

According to the Conservative manifesto:

“We will continue to ensure that defence policy remains firmly under British national control, maintaining NATO and the trans-Atlantic relationship as the cornerstones of our defence and security policy.”

It should be noted however that the United Kingdom does take part in a wide array of European Union initiatives, one of the most notable is the EU Battle group idea. Arising from the Common Security and Defence Policy, each battle group is based on voluntary contributions from one or two of the unions member states with one nation being the “lead nation”, each of the eighteen battle groups consists of a battalion sized force with support elements. The groups are intended to rotate so that two at least two are ready for deployment. The forces are under the direct control of the Council of the European Union, quite a long shot from a single European military force.

Notably, an initiative the United Kingdom has taken nothing to do with is the ‘European Corps’, often shortened to Eurocorps, it numbers around 1,000 soldiers and is stationed in Strasbourg, France, it was established in May 1992. The corps is not part of any other military organisation and does not belong to any member state.

The force is deployed on the authority of the Common Committee representing the member nations and the Political Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It has been deployed numerous times, participating in peacekeeping missions in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan among others.

Tory MP Tom Pursglove said last month:

“The British people have no desire for an EU army. We are immensely proud of our Armed Forces and owe all those who serve an enormous debt of gratitude.”

According to Ida Martinez Lunde in a paper detailing British attitudes to the European Union, the British public are sceptical of the EU for a number of reasons:

“To fully comprehend Britain’s view on the European Union today it is necessary to go back to the first steps taken towards a European cooperation. In 1951 there were six found members of the ESCS: Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Italy. Britain had an idea for a free trade area in Europe outside the ESCS and founded EFTA together with Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Austria, Switzerland and Portugal. However, only one and half year later Britain applied for a membership in the (by then renamed) EEC.

The sudden change in policy was due to several factors: Initially, the EEC was more successful than first assumed. It made non-membership more dangerous as British exports would have been threatened by an expansion of the EEC. Even though only twelve percent of Britain’s exports were to EEC-countries, this was two per cent more than the export to EFTA members in the 1960’s. Second, Britain’s military and economic strength had been weakened after the Sueze-Crisis and it only proved that Britain was somewhat dependent on American help. John F.Kennedy made it clear that special treatment was out of the question for Britain without EEC membership.”

Lunde concludes:

“The reasons for British scepticism towards the European Union are many. At the very heart of it lies the problem that the EU of today is something completely different from what they signed up for in 1973. In contrast to French or German ideals of an integrated Europe and to some extent a European identity the British have a long tradition of being their own best friend, and are in many ways only part European, both geographically and ideologically. Britain has a history as a major trade power, and as such access to a free market could only be beneficial. EECs evolution towards a union and the treaties Britain has had to commit itself to are becoming questionable in terms of financial benefits. Britain’s main reason for membership in the EU has always been financial. With Brussels demanding ever higher payments and the recent financial and euro crisis, the British people might no longer see a reason to take part in the EU.

It is difficult to determine whether or not Britain benefits from leaving the EU as reports point to both the benefits of membership being high whereas others say they are non-existent. However it will be exciting to see how the situation develops.”

It’s one thing to agree on not having a single European military, indeed as we often argue that is simply not going to happen but it’s quite a different thing for Britain to disengage from European defence policy all together, something that despite the result, I do not see happening.

42 COMMENTS

    • “When” Scotland becomes independent they’ll inevitably lose several hundred, if not thousands of jobs due to the dissolution of military shipbuilding and presumed relocation of Trident and the Astute fleets

    • Jake Hayes how will the uk armed forces be stronger if Scotland become independent? We would lose the Scottish regiments a couple of ships and two RAF squadrons. That what they were predicting in the last Scottish referendum.

    • Also the MoD REALLY doesn’t want to relocate Trident – so they could even bargain that for maintaining rUK shipbuilding on the Clyde (particularly seeing that Ireland could reunite (unlikely, but possible) and the next best base for Trident is NI)

    • It’s not upto the Royal Navy whether they give up ships or not it’s the government. Im sure if the UK government wanted to continue using Faslane the Scottish government will get what they want. Phillip Hammond said before the referendum that there would be negotiations on what assets Scotland while get. hope it doesn’t come down to it and Scotland stay but i don’t think it will happen.

  1. Just want to remind everyone that, if there had been an EU army or major EU military moves, we would probably have been guiding it as one of the EU’s most serious military powers. But nope – we chose to sacrifice our influence to make a point. Nice one lads.

  2. I wish we reaming since the economy would not be in a mess as it is in and we wouldn’t be a divided nation but I have come to decided that it can change.

  3. A very difficult time.

    For sure the GDP will take a hit, at least in the short/medium term as companies hold off any investment in the UK whilst they wait for the dust to settle.

    If Scotland manage to force another vote, then the chances of them leaving is going to be higher than before, just because it will happen in the period where the dust hasn’t settled and the country is in decline.

    Result is likely to be a real mess for the Navy, since we will have to give at least a couple of major ships to independent Scotland, should they vote that way, not to mention the huge costs of moving the navy out of Scotland.

    Huge huge question marks over our country. Hopefully when the dust settles the effect will actually be pretty limited, but right now i suspect tossing a coin is about as accurate as any of the ‘expert’ views on what will happen.

  4. I think the UK has made a bad mistake voting to come out of the EU, but since it has happened we must move on as quickly as possible and over time get the right trade deals and so on…. When it comes to defence, the UK will still be a important player within NATO. If Scotland leaves the UK obviously some military resources will have to go to the Scot’s, but after that it will be up to the Scot’s to finance their defence and buy more equipment, and i should think the remaining UK would have a re-organisation of it’s military possibly putting in extra funding to make up for the fact some equipment has gone to Scotland.. The new look UK would still have a population of 60 million and would continue to play important part in NATO, what with our carriers and a well trained army..

    • The main question what resources we give them.

      If we give them a couple of type 23’s, then fine, we lose a few frigates but they are due to be replaced anyway.

      If however, we give them 1 or 2 of our type 45’s or Astute and the navy is destroyed, and won’t be able to escort its carriers and so will be forced to sell one.

  5. I don’t think we would give Scotland any Type 45’s, more like the type 23’s possibly or they could use large patrol vessels. When it comes to the Astute i don’t think a country the size of Scotland could afford to run large sub’s like the Astute… But also they are nuclear powered sub’s, don’t forget the SNP are totally against having any nuclear powered weapons in the country! Not just the SSBN’S they are anti nuclear anything..

  6. Guys I’m Scottish I voted to remain in the UK and voted to leave the EU.

    I can’t stand the SNP and the loyalty shown to Europe over the UK prosperity, security and loyalty is staggering and sad. I’m actually really scared.

    Ireland and Scotland should have given time to reflect and comment on result as it seems the Europeans are too turning nasty.

    I suspect a weakened Westminster will undoubtedly put our security at risk with increased tensions in Calai, Gibraltar and the Falklands.

    Argentina and Spain will pounce on our vulnerability. And I suspect mass protests all over UK in coming weeks and months

    I think the UK as we know it is finished and I deem our European neighbours no longer our friends nor the separatists in the UK.

  7. I would give it time Steven, things will calm down and then the serious works of negotiating will begin with the EU. I have been encouraged to see Germany wanting to do things in a calm and sensible way, not to rush things and make mistakes, well, according to German chancellor anyway..

    I thought it was interesting to see there is talk in Germany of perhaps the EU and the UK could have a special association in the future, even though the UK would not be in the EU anymore, we will see!

    When it comes to the Falklands we can defend the Islands and the Argentinian military are very weak at the moment anyway. Politically a UK government would never give the Islands away only if they wanted to commit political suicide. I think when it comes to Gibraltar it will stay a UK territory for the foreseeable future, i don’t know if they would have another referendum in Gibraltar on the EU and it’s association with the UK. But i’m sure they would vote to stay with the UK!

    I truly hope Scotland stays in the UK, after all Scotland is part of what makes our nation so great. I’m not only a proud Englishman but i’m a proud Brit! So i hope if a referendum does take place say in two years or longer that the Scot’s stay with the rest of the UK..

  8. Can’t disagree with what your saying John Stevens but we Scots are a passionate lot and the UK Gov don’t have any cards up thier sleeve to play now nor are any of the reasons the leave camp have are valid and probably never were., like oil revenue? BUT none of that matters as it seems politics of perception have won over fact and sadly I think the threat to UK union is under major threat not only from Scotland but in Wales and Ireland.

    I’m from East Kilbride , South Lanarkshire I have more in common with someone from Newcastle or Manchester than some waitress in Barcelona or a trucker in Hungry.

    I care about the UK but what people don’t recognise is we have a chance to reflect on foreign policy past and present and to reinvent UK PLC

    When it comes to ethnicity England is more cosmopolitan than Scotland, we have areas still predominantly white but have areas of a cosmopolitan environment also Scotland does not look like England, YET and the point I’m trying to make is voting reasons may differ north and south of the boarder.

    What I find to disgusting is latest studies show that the higher education you have, people voted to remain. Ffs if I had known a degree in fecking fashion design would have enhanced my Knowledge of the EU over 15 years of hard graft putting money into the system – shock fecking horror. Pure Pathetic.

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