We should not barter away our defence forces

Bernard Jenkin spoke to the Conference about the need to distance ourselves from the European army  which lies behind the Common defence and Security policy of the EU.

He reminded us that out of NATO’s total annual spend of $£912 billion, the current EU only accounts for around $165bn, with the UK contributing $61bn. The EU is keen to keep us locked into their defence ambitions, given the relative scale of our contribution.

The EU Negotiating mandate has gone beyond the Political declaration of the Withdrawal Agreement, and asks for a EU/UK Security Partnership. The UK Negotiating Mandate includes no such item. Defence is not mentioned separately, but is covered by the general provisions about “standard third country participation in certain Union programmes”.

The UK does not wish to be part of PESCO, permanent structured co-operation. The UK may be willing to join EU led task forces or missions as an ally, or may invite EU forces to join in missions we are planning. The main thrust of UK military activity will continue to be through NATO. We rely on NATO support for our defence against potential major global aggressors, and work closely with our NATO allies and the UN on peace keeping and peace making missions around the world.

There are some in the official government of the UK keen to bind us into European common defence procurement, as a first step to making us more interdependent with the smaller and less versatile forces of the continental countries outside France. The present UK government has set out a mandate to move us more in the direction of independent forces collaborating closely through NATO.

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  1. Monty
    Posted March 11, 2020 at 5:21 am | Permalink

    When we were in the EU we had a veto over a European army. Now we do not. But if one is created, of course we will be hugely affected by its choices, because the EU army will, with the US army, be one of the two most powerful elements in NATO. Yet another example of how Brexit weakens Britain.

    • Nig l
      Posted March 11, 2020 at 6:52 am | Permalink

      What utter tosh. Have you looked at the state of the EUs army’s lately let alone the political constipation caused by having to get agreement from umpteen countries with different allegiances before taking any action.

      In fact our professional independent armed forces with the ability to move quickly has strengthened this country immeasurably politically over umpteen years.

      I look forward to more real examples, rather than hot air, where Brexit has weakened us.

      • Mitchel
        Posted March 12, 2020 at 11:04 am | Permalink

        Lovely uniforms though-like the Austro-Hungarian armies in 1914!

    • Know-Dice
      Posted March 11, 2020 at 7:23 am | Permalink

      There already is an EU army – Google “Euro corps” and any veto we may of had has been diluted to the advantage of the 19 countries that take out more from the EU than they pay in

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 11, 2020 at 8:05 am | Permalink

      Yes, the UK did have such a veto.

      However, my understanding is that the recent proposals from some European Union countries for co-ordinated military arrangements are NOT those envisaged by the Lisbon Treaty, and so would not be under or form a European Union institution.

      That is, they would be at-will arrangements between sovereign nations, and could involve any whether European Union member states of not.

      If so then there isn’t any way that these could form part of any sort of bargain by either side in trade negotiations.

    • Pud
      Posted March 11, 2020 at 8:26 am | Permalink

      Remainers are very fond of doublethink. When it suits their argument, the UK was capable of vetoing any EU proposal it disagreed with, yet somehow the UK must remain in the EU because without its benevolent coercion the UK would slash workers’ rights.

    • Matt
      Posted March 11, 2020 at 8:38 am | Permalink

      “No” to the EU army was a key part of the Brexit vote.

      We were told it was a fiction. A campfire scare story. Well here it is.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 12, 2020 at 7:41 am | Permalink

        If, instead of believing whatever you were told, you took the trouble to inform yourself, then you would have seen that an integrated European Union defence arrangement was an express part of the Lisbon Treaty.

        There was nothing secretive or scheming about this, it was absolutely clear and transparent.

        However, some nations said that they would veto this, so it has been shelved for some time.

        That has not prevented the willing from proposing co-operation independently of the European Union however, and that is the focus of most discussions.

        Ignore the misrepresentations.

        • Edward2
          Posted March 13, 2020 at 2:24 am | Permalink

          Yet after the Lisbon Treaty all the pro EU fans denied any plans for an EU armed force.
          We were told we were extremists, liars, fantasists if we dared to say this was the plan.
          Now you are trying to say we told you from day one but you weren’t listening properly.
          Its like a novel by George Orwell.
          And a metaphor for how the EU works.

          • Adrian Ambroz
            Posted March 14, 2020 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

            20 Nov 2017 – Today Michel Barnier says the EU needs a ‘common foreign policy and common defence’ – despite Nick Clegg warning that the idea of an EU army was a ‘dangerous fantasy’
            So who was telling “porkies” & which other trade organisation has the need for an army?
            If there were an EU army it will be led by Germany much to the anxiety of many other European members who have long memories

    • Edward2
      Posted March 11, 2020 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      It only seems yesterday when pro EU fans like Nick Clegg were howling down as fantasists anyone who dared to suggest the EU had plans for an army.
      Now here you are Monty openly telling us how marvellous this army will be and how we will miss being in it.
      Time flies.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 12, 2020 at 7:44 am | Permalink

        Rubbish. Nick Clegg said that such an army would not happen because the UK, and perhaps others would always veto it. That is quite a different matter.

        The plans have always been in the Lisbon Treaty for all to read, so even Clegg would not have been that naïve.

        • Edward2
          Posted March 12, 2020 at 10:40 am | Permalink

          As usual you are wrong.
          He called those who said an EU armed force was being planned, liars and said there were no such plans.
          Look it up.

        • Pud
          Posted March 12, 2020 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

          Martin is wrong. In the pre-referendum debate between Nigel Farage and Nick Clegg, Farage claimed the EU wanted its own army and navy to which Clegg replied the suggestion was a “dangerous fantasy that is simply not true”. (I’ve just confirmed my recollection of the debate on the BBC news website).

          • Edward2
            Posted March 13, 2020 at 2:25 am | Permalink

            Thank you Pud.
            Presumably Martin will deny it ever happened.

          • Adrian Ambroz
            Posted March 14, 2020 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

            20 Nov 2017 – Today Michel Barnier says the EU needs a ‘common foreign policy and common defence’ – despite Nick Clegg warning that the idea of an EU army was a ‘dangerous fantasy’
            So who was telling “porkies”

    • bigneil(newercomp)
      Posted March 11, 2020 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      Brexit weakens Britain? The EU wants to dominate, rule and destroy Britain – would that be weak enough for you? The EU wants to plunder our waters for fish. The EU wants US to pay THEM for the privilege. The EU wants us to have NO border control AT ALL, so they can shove millions of freeloaders here.

    • Hope
      Posted March 11, 2020 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      I think a careful read of the servitude plan is required. There are many commentators who do not share JRs view. They think the U.K. is committed by the servitude plan to the EU, procurement and missions, and will be under EU control if the U.K. joined any mission!

      The U.K. should not be subservient in any part of the security, defense or intelligence arm of the EU unless it is as an equal and has the ability to be present or not if it chooses. Another reason why Sedwill should not be in charge of Defense, Cabinet office and civil service. Too powerful and too many fingers in the pie. What did he do about those civil servants involved in the KitKat scandal? Nothing. Therefore it is reasonable to wonder if it was govt. policy or unofficial civil service policy.

    • rose
      Posted March 11, 2020 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

      The EU army without us is in effect the French army and the French have never liked being in NATO. That is why the EU army is being created – as an alternative, not an addition, to NATO. We should be in the real thing.

    • Robert Mcdonald
      Posted March 11, 2020 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

      And the eu army will be a lot more emasculated without the uk military forces in tow, and having listened to how keen the likes of Macron is on empire building that can only be a good thing for the uk and indeed the world.

  2. Lifelogic
    Posted March 11, 2020 at 5:46 am | Permalink

    I agree fully.

    “There are some in the official government of the UK keen to bind us into European common defence procurement”

    So who are these people?

    • James1
      Posted March 11, 2020 at 7:01 am | Permalink

      Anyone who reads history cannot help but be alarmed at the notion of a European Army, especially one controlled by unelected bureaucrats.

    • Ian Wragg
      Posted March 11, 2020 at 8:29 am | Permalink

      Of course France and Germany want us to follow EU procurement rules so they can undercut our defence companies with hidden subsidies.
      No doubt all the planes would be supplied by France and all the armoured vehicles by Germany while they make minimum contribution.

    • Hope
      Posted March 11, 2020 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      LL, Civil servants under Robbins were caught on tape by the The Sun in The KitKat scandal. Where they wanted to hide true costs and ties to the EU. Still waiting for the investigation, including Sedwill and May. After all they were the ultimate bosses.

  3. Shirley M
    Posted March 11, 2020 at 5:51 am | Permalink

    The EU can be taken seriously on defence when they meet their existing commitments, which they don’t. I have more trust in NATO than anything the EU controls, but overall we must take control of our own defence and not be at the beck and call of the EU, or NATO.

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 11, 2020 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

      The European Union has no budget agreement with NATO. It is not part of any Treaty.

      The individual member countries do in their own respective capacities, as do those that are not in the European Union.

      So your criticism should be directed at those countries, not at any European Union institution or officials.

      • Shirley M
        Posted March 11, 2020 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

        The EU insist on member countries doing other things, such as membership of ECHR. The EU would rather duplicate things that don’t need duplicating, like NATO, so they can be in full control. Germany, the country who benefits most from the EU, doesn’t pay it’s whack for NATO membership. Erdogan has them banged to rights. He doesn’t play by the rules either and he will take, take, take too.

        France can pay for the EU’s defence, if Germany won’t.

        • Martin in Cardiff
          Posted March 12, 2020 at 7:45 am | Permalink

          So you confirm my comment. Thanks.

      • Adrian Ambroz
        Posted March 14, 2020 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

        in 2006 Nato members commited paying 2% of GDP. Of the 27 members only the USA, UK & 3 of the poorest Poland, Greece & Estonia have met this commitment while 2 of the richest have Germany only paying 1.2% & France 1.8%.
        Which shows a lack of gratitude for the “Berlin Airlift” & subsequent defence against the Communists further advancement into Western Euriope.

    • forthurst
      Posted March 11, 2020 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

      The USA spends more than the other constituents of NATO combined on defence although the US can tend to purchase whatever its defence contractors decide to produce which often offers remarkably few bangs for bucks.

      There is little doubt that NATO policy is US policy so the question is who drives US foreign policy bearing in mind there is remarkably little change in direction purely as a result of a change of President and party? Many people believe that US foreign policy is determined by the Council for Foreign Relations whose members are elected by invitation. What is NATO policy? Occupy Germany; face off Putin; attack ME states that are considered obstructive to the foreign policy objectives of the most favoured nation of all. The policies which NATO supports have all the hallmarks of a minority and their obsessions rather than what would be in the USA’s interests; that we should be bound in any way by our government to this is simply treasonous. We have or should have our own foreign policy priorities which should not be as a mercenary arm of the USA.

      Why is Turkey in NATO; why is Turkey interfering in Syria and why has our SAS also been operating there and what do they hope to achieve?

    • Will in Hampshire
      Posted March 11, 2020 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

      An interesting fact is that twenty-two of our NATO allies are EU Member States. NATO is basically a talking shop with the EU on one side and the USA on the other. The details are at https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/topics_49217.htm.

      So I don’t really understand when you talk about trusting one more than the other, for the most part they are the same thing.

      • Mitchel
        Posted March 12, 2020 at 11:02 am | Permalink

        Correct and aspiring new entrants to the EU have long been required to join NATO first.

  4. Ian@Barkham
    Posted March 11, 2020 at 5:55 am | Permalink

    Good morning Sir John

    We are all guessing as to what is on the EU’s mind as history shows they speak with forked tounge.

    From the rumour mill and guessing that there maybe something to some of it. The constant moving of goal posts is in reality to extend how long the UK stays under the EU’s control and keep sending them taxpayer money.

    All the level playing field suggestions are anything but, if the UK has to spend more, contribute more and be controlled more – that is then a level playing field.

    Although after yesterday’s government decision on Huawei you have to question how serious this government is about keeping this country independent and secure

    • turboterrier
      Posted March 11, 2020 at 8:51 am | Permalink


      Although after yesterday’s government decision on Huawei you have to question how serious this government is about keeping this country independent and secure

      Exactly. Their words and actions do not appear to be very well coordinated.

  5. Lifelogic
    Posted March 11, 2020 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    Meanwhile in Italy the latest figures suggest that just over 50% of those infected will need hospitalisation and about 10% need intensive care. In the worse region the mortality rate is as high as 8%. The only thing the government should currently be concentrating on is how on earth the NHS are going to cope with the extra ICU and hospital demand. Perhaps as many as five million patients with one million needing ICU beds over the next few months and how to delay this and spread it out.

    The deputy health officer and others going still going on about it being a quite mild disease is complaisant and deluded to say the least.

    • Everhopeful
      Posted March 11, 2020 at 7:00 am | Permalink

      Italy…winter 2014/15 mortality rate of 10.7…more than 375,000 deaths.
      Two strains of flu at the same time A/H1N1pdm09 and A/H3N2.
      Also same narrative re ageing population …but not much made of the outbreak in the news at the time. No “lockdown”.

      • Everhopeful
        Posted March 11, 2020 at 9:00 am | Permalink

        Probably because according to WHO this Coronavirus, unlike influenza is containable…so it is worth attempting containment.
        Also they say that, again, unlike ‘flu there is little transmission from asymptomatic patients making containment easier than with ‘flu.
        Totally different from what MSM is claiming!

    • Christine
      Posted March 11, 2020 at 7:11 am | Permalink

      The elderly and those with serious health problems should be self-isolating now. This is the group most at risk. We need to slow the spread in this demographic, so that the NHS isn’t overwhelmed. Do not close the schools as many children will end up being cared for by Grandparents and this will accelerate the spread.

    • formula57
      Posted March 11, 2020 at 8:04 am | Permalink

      @ Lifelogic ” “In the worse region the mortality rate is as high as 8%”

      Or perhaps that is the Case Fatality Rate?

      (By convention, CFR is the number with disease who succumb whereas “mortality rate” is that number expressed in relation to the total population (healthy and infected.)

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 11, 2020 at 8:11 am | Permalink

      You appear to be in a panic.

      The problems that you highlight stem from slashing the public sector since 1979, with two out of three NHS beds having been closed.

      That is exactly for what you have argued so vehemently and endlessly in these threads.

      That cannot be reversed in a matter of days.

      • Edward2
        Posted March 12, 2020 at 10:44 am | Permalink

        The State spent 350 billion in 2000
        In 2021 it will be nearly 900 billion.
        Some “slashing”

        Beds have closed because of clinical advances.
        Operations done now as a day patient that back in 1979 meant a two week stay.

        • EastDevonTory
          Posted March 14, 2020 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

          I have nasal surgery in 1996.2004.2011 and 2019, The former 3 involbved a 2 day stay in hospital.
          In 2019 I had the same surgery and went under the knfe at 11am and was at home by 5pm.

    • Matt
      Posted March 11, 2020 at 8:42 am | Permalink

      To put in perspective. 10.4 million people live in the heavily affected Lombardy region.

      8% of those reporting for treatment is the mortality rate.

      The vast majority of those afflicted with coronavirus are clearly not ill enough to report it and if they did the mortality percentage would be a lot lower.

      This is not to say that the situation is not serious and that people will die because of diverted healthcare too.

    • SM
      Posted March 11, 2020 at 8:58 am | Permalink

      Well, LL, the NHS probably won’t cope with all the extra demand and will have to select which patients should be hospitalised – and if you think doctors don’t have to consider such matters already, you are a great deal more naive than I had suspected.

      But perhaps you have medical and pandemic-management experience that you have not yet revealed?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 11, 2020 at 10:52 am | Permalink

      That plus seeing if any existing anti-virals work, or any other treatments can increase survival rates.

    • Mitchel
      Posted March 11, 2020 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      Following a call between the Italian and Chinese Foreign Ministers,China is going to supply Italy with 1,000 ventilators and 2m masks and is donating 100,000 respirators,20,000 protective suits and 50,000 test kits as part of a “massive aid” package.

      Whilst Mr Trump makes a fool out of himself – and the USA.

    • glen cullen
      Posted March 11, 2020 at 11:23 am | Permalink

      We need to put things in perspective
      There are 359 active coronavirus cases in UK
      They could fit into 3 double decker buses

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 11, 2020 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

        There are an unknown number of unconfirmed cases, because symptomless people from high risk exposure are not being checked.

        The reason given is that there would be false negatives.

        However, any positives would be unlikely to be false, but rather than follow up negatives, these people are not being tested at all.

        I cannot see how cases are not being missed, and how many is anyone’s guess.

        • glen cullen
          Posted March 12, 2020 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

          there are in fact 434 active cases as at midday 12th march

          unknown cases 0
          active cases 434

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted March 13, 2020 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

            How can you possibly put a figure to unknown cases, by definition?

      • formula57
        Posted March 11, 2020 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

        @ glen cullen

        Indeed we do need perspective!

        The 70 per cent. of Germany’s people who become infected (per Dr. Merkel’s prediction) could fit into c. 733,000 double-decker buses (seated), leaving Germany short of some 650,000 buses.

        The equivalent figure for the U.K. is c. 594,000 buses – so 3 would not be enough.

        • glen cullen
          Posted March 12, 2020 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

          germany active cases 2300 as at 12th march

          so 18 double decker buses

    • Zed
      Posted March 11, 2020 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

      Why Italy?

    • margaret howard
      Posted March 12, 2020 at 4:53 pm | Permalink


      “how on earth the NHS are going to cope with the extra ICU and hospital demand”

      They will continue doing what they do now – leave them all lying in the hospital corridors with more confined outside in long queues of waiting ambulances.

  6. John Ross
    Posted March 11, 2020 at 6:06 am | Permalink

    It’s tragic for our country that you people are incapable of learning anything from history(in fact I don’t think you know any history). Britain stood aloof from the EU in the 1950s, so the EU developed with no British influence so when finally Britain felt the need to join, lots of things (eg the CAP) were shaped in a way unhelpful to Britain. And here we go again, Britain has given up its voice at the EU table, then you whine about what happens in the EU. And eventually we’ll rejoin, and the young people who will ensure that we rejoin will curse you pensioners who surrendered Britain’s influence through your head in the sand scaredy-cat Brexit

    • Lifelogic
      Posted March 11, 2020 at 6:34 am | Permalink

      We are not whining about what happens in the EU that is up to them. I think the chance of the UK rejoining is very low indeed. Certainly we will not if the voters learn anything from history. The younger generation will age and hopefully get wiser and learn to appreciate that the leave voters kindly restored their democracy to them and put them back in control. Prof Robert Tombs and David Starkey both have a sensible take on the history.

      • bill brown
        Posted March 11, 2020 at 11:25 am | Permalink


        Or the young voters might not change their minds and decide to reenter

        • Fred H
          Posted March 11, 2020 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

          The young throughout history have insisted on making their own mistakes.

          • bill brown
            Posted March 12, 2020 at 7:21 am | Permalink

            Fred H

            YOuth for you thank god

          • margaret howard
            Posted March 12, 2020 at 8:18 am | Permalink

            Fred H

            Only those young men left after the old men have sacrificed millions of them in wars to reverse the mistakes they have made throughout history but shamefully so in the 20th century.

    • Ian@Barkham
      Posted March 11, 2020 at 6:38 am | Permalink

      We (the people) never at anytime have had a voice or any influence in the EU. The EU doesn’t permit it’s own citizens that privilege

      • Lifelogic
        Posted March 11, 2020 at 7:53 am | Permalink

        Indeed we get little enough say in what goes on at Westminster. One vote every five years for parties that usually promise to lower taxes and improve public services before doing the complete opposite once elected.

        With perhaps the odd counterproductive war and a vastly expensive & idiotic grand project like HS2 or the Net Zero Carbon/ expensive energy lunacy thrown in for good measure.

      • Tory in Cumbria
        Posted March 11, 2020 at 7:54 am | Permalink

        Ever heard of the European Parliament? Elections every 5 years. No EU law gets passed without the say so of MEPs. No three line whips, but instead proper debate and co-operation. A model Parliament!

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 11, 2020 at 10:49 am | Permalink

        It absolutely does.

        There is the Citizens’ Initiative which means that laws can be proposed directly by the people. The UK has nothing like that.

        I surmise that you know nothing of this well-kept secret by the UK Establishment media?

        Then there were our seventy-odd MEPs, the second largest number in the European Union’s Parliament, elected by a PR-based formula, so no vote was wasted.

        Again that is nothing like the UK’e electoral system where most votes make no difference.

        Your post is absolute nonsense.

        • Edward2
          Posted March 11, 2020 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

          Anything exciting come of the Citizens Initiative?

          Any exciting new laws rules, regulations or directives proposed by the Commission that the MEPs have refused to pass?

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted March 12, 2020 at 7:48 am | Permalink

            Yes – do some research eh?

            So my point to the foolish comment stands.

          • Edward2
            Posted March 12, 2020 at 10:52 am | Permalink

            I thought you might rush to tell us all the exciting headline grabbing things us citizens had got the unelected EU technocrats to do for us
            But sadly I am to be disappointed.
            I prefer a direct election every few years for people who provide a manifesto listing their policies.
            But call me old fashioned.

            And no list from you I notice of things the MEPs didn’t just rubber stamp as they passed through from unelected Commissioners to be new laws affecting us citizens.

        • Robert Mcdonald
          Posted March 11, 2020 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

          What difference did c 70 MEPs make among the 1000s of MEPs from eu member nations who are beholden to the eurocrats dishing out eu money in loans and “investments” , our money by the way. The MEPs are beggars at the mercy of the eurocracy set up and have no real influence in the decision making process whatsoever.

      • bill brown
        Posted March 11, 2020 at 11:24 am | Permalink

        the common defence collaboration between Britain, Denmark and Estonia in Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan and latest with the Danish Air Force in Syria, I am sure will not change even if certain structures are changed

      • bill brown
        Posted March 11, 2020 at 11:26 am | Permalink


        I have actually through lobbying form Denmark , changed policies in the EU for Danish farmers in the past, so your remarks should come with a certain degree of reservations

      • Red Jim
        Posted March 12, 2020 at 5:12 am | Permalink

        Ever heard of a thing called the European Parliament? No EU law gets passed without its sayso

        • Edward2
          Posted March 12, 2020 at 10:54 am | Permalink

          How many times have MEPs not rubber stamped EU laws directives rules or regulations in the last few decades Jim?
          The Parliament in the EU is a sham.
          Surprised you are taken in by it all.

          • Martin in Cardiff
            Posted March 13, 2020 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

            They didn’t pass the bullying US’s TTIP did they?

        • glen cullen
          Posted March 12, 2020 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

          and some EU laws got passed by mistake when the tabling number was changed at the last minute….they keeped those laws even though the MEPs where confused on what they where voting for….quite ridiculous

      Posted March 11, 2020 at 6:48 am | Permalink

      Those ‘pensioners’ you so readily abuse are British citizens.

      Ignorance and stupidity is one of the defining hallmarks of the younger generation educated and indoctrinated under a New Labour education system

      When you mature into a normal adult you’ll appreciate the importance of history, values and customs that Labour and indeed many Tory MPs have sacrificed on the altar of vile progressive politics

    • Nig l
      Posted March 11, 2020 at 7:05 am | Permalink

      More nonsense. A different CAP from the outset. Evidence please that France would have let its agriculture be changed/reformed? It is still resisting that now only 70 years later.

      Indeed instead of meaningless generalisations about loss of influence etc, please give us measurable examples. Failure to do so tells me that there aren’t any.

      Maybe you could share with us what Project Fear got right and the ‘pensioners’ got wrong.

    • Dave Andrews
      Posted March 11, 2020 at 7:14 am | Permalink

      Young people aren’t interested in Europe – look at how foreign language learning has been abandoned.
      The civil service might like the idea of re-joining the EU, but for any political party in government it will be a toxic issue they will steer well clear of.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 12, 2020 at 7:53 am | Permalink

        All demanding studies have fallen in popularity in the UK, not just languages.

        That is why the UK needs to import so many doctors etc. from the European Union.

    • Richard1
      Posted March 11, 2020 at 8:18 am | Permalink

      For the UK to rejoin the EU – which is possible – two things would have to be clear. First, Brexit would clearly have to be seen to have failed. The UK would have had to fail to secure new trading deals outside the EU, and UK growth prosperity and investment levels would have to be seen to have clearly underperformed the main EU countries.

      Second, the ever integrating EU will have to be seen to be a success. There will need to have been the sort of major fiscal transfers from creditor to debtor nations in the eurozone, recovery to growth and a big reduction in unemployment in southern Europe etc.

      There is nothing automatic about the support of young people for a federal superstate – and who now can deny that is the direction of travel of the EU? In Italy young people by a majority want to leave the EU. There is nowhere close to a majority amongst any age group in either Switzerland or Norway to join the EU.

      Funnily enough I think the thing that might do the trick for rejoin is green crap. The current govt is declaring it’s support for ‘net zero’ without the slightest idea how to get there. If the policy really is pursued it will mean huge costs and economic disruption (and will still fail – how are we going to get 3-5x the output from the electricity network using only windmills and solar panels?). So expect to see those most fanatical about rejoining the EU also supporting the most extreme and unachievable green crap. No change there!

    • Matt
      Posted March 11, 2020 at 8:46 am | Permalink

      We are talking about wanting to distance ourselves from the EU army (which Remain told us was not going to exist) now that we have left the EU.

      Do you not understand ?

      I expect citizens of the EU are going to be shocked when faced with the true cost of their defence but may benefit from the extra youth employment it provides.

      • Matt
        Posted March 11, 2020 at 8:48 am | Permalink

        PS. We weren’t allowed to join the Common Market until France had sewn up the CAP to her own advantage – museum farming.

    • graham1946
      Posted March 11, 2020 at 9:47 am | Permalink

      Hello Andy

      Same old, same old. More pensioner hate, ‘you people’, ‘incapable of learning’ etc
      etc and dreams that the young, who on the whole do not give a damn about politics will reverse the result. They will eventually grow up, which you are clearly unable to do.

      Time to change your name again, then it will look like there are 3 of you.

    • Edward2
      Posted March 11, 2020 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      It seems John Ross your grasp of history is also weak.
      In the 1950s the EU didn’t exist it was just a Coal and Steel federation based on mutually advantageous trade arrangements.
      The EU didn’t start until the 1990s.

      Also yours is the argument I have heard for decades.
      It is essentially that we must be “at the heart of Eurooe” we must be “at the top table” well that forgets there are 28 members all with a vote 9 paying in the rest taking out.
      The right of veto on various areas is reducing in power and the use of qualified majority voting is increasing.
      The power of an individual nation in this system is falling fast.

    • bigneil(newercomp)
      Posted March 11, 2020 at 11:08 am | Permalink

      John Ross – – “Britain has given up its voice at the EU table” – I don’t think we ever had one. I remember one of the EU bosses saying ( after a certain UK PM had “demanded” something from the EU ) – – ” He can ask for what he wants – the day after, we’ll just change it back “.
      They want our money – and to destroy us by shoving millions of foreign freeloaders into the UK for us to keep.

      • Martin in Cardiff
        Posted March 11, 2020 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

        It was the UK and US, their actions in the ME, which precipitated the refugee crisis, and which “shoved” millions of foreign asylum seekers into the European Union. Only a very small proportion have managed to get to the UK, however. Germany, France, and Sweden have taken the numbers that you mention, on the other hand.

        I think that you owe them an apology and a debt of gratitude.

        The UK was one of the Big Three, along with France and Germany, and had a great deal of influence in the European Union, but no longer.

        • Fred H
          Posted March 12, 2020 at 8:47 am | Permalink

          I’d pass you a tissue, but I’m not travelling….

        • Edward2
          Posted March 12, 2020 at 10:59 am | Permalink

          The Middle East has been riven by conflicts and civil wars for centuries.
          Most refugees are economic migrants
          And the general rule is nearest place of safety not the country I fancy living in.

    • LinJ
      Posted March 11, 2020 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

      ”You pensioners”?
      I am heartily sick of you people blithely asserting that everyone who voted to leave the EU (a sensible, measured and well-researched decision, unlike that of remainers who were merely voting for a non-existent status quo) were ”pensioners”.
      Most of my friends and family, many probably younger than you, voted to leave because they could see the sense of it. They have faith in their sovereign country – unlike you ”scaredy cat” remainers who believe the UK can’t cope without your EU masters telling it what to do.

      • margaret howard
        Posted March 12, 2020 at 8:31 am | Permalink


        “They have faith in their sovereign country – unlike you ”scaredy cat” remainers who believe the UK can’t cope without your EU masters telling it what to do.”

        So maybe you will be the first to answer my question:

        “Why did we beg to join the EU if we had so much faith in ourselves? Because we were floundering? Known as the ‘sick man of Europe’ riddled with union problems and on the skids?

        Despite de Gaulle’s repeated ‘nons’ we persevered and eventually put our membership application to the vote with a vast majority of us who were actually there, voting to join.

        And don’t give me the old ‘well it was just a trading bloc then’ – the official referendum pamphlet made clear what it was:

        The aims of the Common Market are:

        To bring together the peoples of Europe.

        To raise living standards and improve working conditions.

        To promote growth and boost world trade.

        To help the poorest regions of Europe and the rest of the world.

        To help maintain peace and freedom.

        • Edward2
          Posted March 13, 2020 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

          You keep asking the same question Margaret
          We joined the Common Market.
          A group of 6 economically similar nations.
          It was a trading group with aims to bring about prosperity via easier ways of trading with one another.

          The pamflet you quote is speaking about vague ideals.
          It was never thought it would one day be 28 disparate economies.
          Or have it’s own powerful courts, its own central bank its own currency, its own flag anthem army and embassies.
          The ideals and concept of the original Common Market have been hijacked and turned into a supra national and pretty undemocratic empire.

  7. Halfway
    Posted March 11, 2020 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    “or may invite EU forces to join in missions we are planning”- so what missions are we planning? Do you not think we have been sticking out nose into other peoples business for too long now and it’s time to give it a rest.

    • Mitchel
      Posted March 11, 2020 at 11:06 am | Permalink

      I see an injured SAS soldier had to be airlifted out of Syria a few days ago where “officially” we are not involved militarily.

    • Andy
      Posted March 11, 2020 at 11:32 am | Permalink

      I suspect our next military missions will be on the streets of our own country. It surely can’t be long until Cummings and Johnson decide to use force to crush anyone who dare challenge them.

      • Edward2
        Posted March 11, 2020 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

        You are getting more ridiculous every day Andy.
        The Government has an 80 seat majority and will remain in power for the next five years.

  8. Mark B
    Posted March 11, 2020 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    Our kind host does not understand that, NATO is not a Franco-German run organisation, and hence why they need their own independent structures.

    They also need to go d us in not only to feed off of our superior intelligence and military infrastructure but, to be able to nullify a potential rival. This is what this has always been about. Not money or trade but power.

    Those in the UK that wish us Remain closely tied to the EU do so in the hope that we will rejoin one day. What they fail to see is a EU that will rapidly Federalise. We need political distance from them.

  9. Bryan Harris
    Posted March 11, 2020 at 7:01 am | Permalink


  10. jerry
    Posted March 11, 2020 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    We might not want to be involved in PESCO but we might well have to swallow our pride, or become even more reliant on the USA (not NATO) for our defence, should the EU27 decide to go it alone and pull out of NATO’s military bodies to a lesser or greater extent, after all France was for a long time at best on the edges of NATO due to not wanting to put her own nuclear deterrent at the Organizations disposal.

    If our hosts stance becomes UK policy then it might precipitate the break-up of NATO considering 26 out of its 29 member countries are European and all but one (the UK) will be aligned with the EU & PESCO.

  11. Christine
    Posted March 11, 2020 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    If you lose control of your armed forces you are no longer an independent self governing country. Glad to see the ERG is continuing. We need a group of MPs willing to hold this Government to account. They seem to be doing the opposition’s job.

    • glen cullen
      Posted March 12, 2020 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      fully agree with your comments

  12. Alison
    Posted March 11, 2020 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    Agree. May I add, please beware of EU blandishments and honeyed phrases of ultra-virtuous intentions? The EU doesn’t call a pot a pot. They will tell us their pot is a vessel of goodness, purity and selfless intentions.

  13. margaret
    Posted March 11, 2020 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    It is so sad talking about defence weapons when we cannot even protect ourselves from coronavirus. I have implemented strict x infection precautions from the onset as is my basic British training ….is this enough?

  14. Fred H
    Posted March 11, 2020 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    I was staggered to read that UK pays $61bn per year to NATO, which annually spends $912bn. I find it difficult to grasp how that cost can be usefully spent – achieving what?

    • Martin in Cardiff
      Posted March 12, 2020 at 7:56 am | Permalink

      Making America Great Again, Fred, what else?

      • Fred H
        Posted March 12, 2020 at 8:46 am | Permalink

        or pretending most of those countries have the balls to defend themselves, while we make a major financial contribution to cover the white flag wavers.

      • Edward2
        Posted March 12, 2020 at 11:00 am | Permalink

        Saves France and Germany paying their fair share.

      • margaret howard
        Posted March 12, 2020 at 5:16 pm | Permalink


        “Making America Great Again, Fred, what else?”

        Or just another Quango!

        (No doubt full of retired old American generals supplementing their old age pensions. Another House of Lords?)

    • Mitchel
      Posted March 12, 2020 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      Nice new $1bn headquarters (and I think I read a 5,000 permanent -and permanently well remunerated- staff).

      Just another self-serving elite institution well past it’s use by date.

  15. Alan Jutson
    Posted March 11, 2020 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Should we barter away our defence forces.


    Co-operate where their is a joint benefit, but not for any other reason.

  16. turboterrier
    Posted March 11, 2020 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    There are some in the official government of the UK keen to bind us into European common defence procurement,

    I would suggest that those of the official governmentwho think this way, man up and step forward with a request for their P45. They are neither use or ornament. The Eu cannot manage their accounts to the point of being signed off. They have a culture of wasting money and on the question of defence it will be no different. What we control we are responsible and accountable for to the electorate.

  17. Stred
    Posted March 11, 2020 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Didn’t May and Sit Alan Duncan quietly sign up for partnering PESCO? Can we unsign?

  18. a-tracy
    Posted March 11, 2020 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    I’d like to hear what our Military Top Brass at the MOD have to say on this matter.

    Our UK governments seem to like ‘external Agencies’ to take decisions away from government so have set up Quango after Quango but then no-one is held responsible for bad decisions and the buck is passed from pillar to post. However, I read the Military is headed by the Secretary of State for Defence – currently Ben Wallace who sounds like a well-trained minister for this role.

    Posted March 11, 2020 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Huawei. Sinister and disturbing. This government is taking this nation in a direction that should concern us all. Is there no issue the Tory party will not capitulate to for any easy political life?

  20. agricola
    Posted March 11, 2020 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Politically , Europe as an entity is not reliable. Their attitude to the idea of a sovereign independent UK is an object lesson we should take on board. Historically they have been a shambles. Think Italy WW1/WW2, France WW2. Given a cause outside or on the fringe of Europe and they are useless. Where is their solution to the current Syrian refugee problem impinging on Turkey and Greece. Talk and money could solve it very quickly, but they prefer to do nothing and allow it to become an insoluble problem. Germany is far too reliant on Russian energy to be politically positive.

    Despite some EU nations membership of NATO it is effectively an Anglosphere organisation comprising Canada, the USA and UK with close support from Australia and New Zealand. If not in name, that is where the military power over the destiny of Europe has been since 1914. Much to the chagrin and ingratitude of some of the European nations to whom it returned political freedom, think De Gaule. Abandoning it to join a new untested club is unthinkable.

    Joint procurement within NATO has a much better future than our past dabbling with EU nations has proved time and again. Think of the latest GPS satellite system. We the UK decide to be politically independent so the EU spring to this joint project to try and punish us. That level of thinking in the EU does not bode well for an integrated European military force. Best leave them to squabble among themselves and cry over the result as the French did when they collapsed in 1940. Their parochial thinking would place the navigational datum line through Strasburg.

  21. glen cullen
    Posted March 11, 2020 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Sir John, I fully agree with your assessment, our defence and its procurement has to remain independent and sovereign

    • glen cullen
      Posted March 12, 2020 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

      We buy strategic nuclear weapons from USA
      We buy fighter aircraft from USA
      We buy armoured vehicles from Worldwide
      We buy transport vehicles from France
      We buy training from USA
      We buy ration pack food from Thailand
      We buy boots from Portugal
      We buy combat uniforms from China

      But as a sovereign country its our choice when where and how we use of defence assets

  22. Everhopeful
    Posted March 11, 2020 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    Oh great!
    Predictably fear of the virus is being used to shelve trade talks.
    Brexit delayed?

  23. LinJ
    Posted March 11, 2020 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    Why not bear in mind the prescient words of Enoch Powell:
    ”What would have been the fate of Britain in 1940 if production of the Hurricane and the Spitfire had been dependent upon the output of factories in France? That a question so glaringly obvious does not get asked in public or in government illuminates the danger created for this nation by the rolling stream of time which bears away the generation of 1940, the generation, that is to say, of those who experienced as adults Britain’s great peril and Britain’s great deliverance.”

    • margaret howard
      Posted March 12, 2020 at 5:33 pm | Permalink


      Was that before or after his ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech?

      Yesterday’s man with yesterdays thinking.

      We live in a new atomic age. Small aggressive nations will be cowed and big ones know mutual destruction will be assured.

      There has never been a safer age when warfare has finally been eliminated, not just through a new moral frame of mind but by yet another one of mankind’s brilliant inventions – the atom bomb.

      What are the military for now? Vain men in medal encrusted uniforms?

      • Edward2
        Posted March 13, 2020 at 2:27 am | Permalink

        Did you originally write this in the 1960s?

  24. Edwardm
    Posted March 12, 2020 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Cameron’s and May’s governments signed a number of defence agreements with the EU or with EU countries to increasingly integrate our forces to those of the EU. These agreements need to be unsigned – will they be?

    Also we need to reinstate manufacturing capability of all vital defence parts and not be dependent on unreliable foreign countries – especially EU countries as they have proven unreliable in the past.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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