Brexit may lead to “EU army” and we can’t stop it now

by Hugo Dixon | 14.07.2016

Barely has Britain voted to quit the EU than Germany and France are calling for closer defence cooperation. Berlin said yesterday that the UK had “paralysed” such initiatives in the past. If and when we leave the EU, we will lose our ability to veto anything the other countries do in the defence sphere.

Although it is a stretch at present to talk of an EU army, the German defence minister did call for the construction of a European “civilian-military headquarters”, from which EU missions could be deployed. In time, this could morph into an army.

How ironic that one of the arguments deployed by Brexiteers for quitting the EU was to stop the creation of an army. What a terrible own goal too. Britain has fought countless wars over the centuries to stop a single military force emerging on the other side of the Channel. That’s one reason why we battled against Hitler, Kaiser Wilhelm, Napoleon, Spain’s Philip II and France’s Louis XIV.

Any Franco-German led army wouldn’t be hostile to Britain. But it might become the de facto European arm of Nato, reducing our voice in the alliance. It might over time even lead to the dismantling of Nato, especially if Donald Trump, who doesn’t care much for the alliance, becomes US president. Neither outcome would be in Britain’s interest.

If we’d voted to stay in the EU, we would be in an entirely different position. We would have been able to put the brake on defence cooperation until the bloc had formed a coherent foreign policy. We would also have been able to take the lead in developing such a foreign policy and, ultimately, determining how Europe’s armies work together.

Brexiteers said Vote Leave Take Control. The Franco-German manoeuvres are an example of how Vote Leave could mean Lose Control.

Edited by Alan Wheatley