Defence Implications of Brexit – Further Thoughts

The nation has decided, although as we know, there is currently all sorts of activity trying to reverse the decision. But assuming this all calms down and the Government gets on with the business of leaving the European Union, what are the defence implications?

Brexit

A few thoughts, building on an earlier post that suggested the day to day defence issues would not change significantly but wider economic and political issues would likely be subject to a great deal of change.

Day to Day Matters

Since 1998, various initiatives and treaties have slowly increased the role of the European Union in defence matters for its member states, culminating in the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). The CSDP creates a framework for the military and defence aspects of EU policy. Created when the Treaty of Lisbon was signed in 2009, the CSDP replaces and enlarges the former European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP). The aim of the policy is the establishment of a common European defence capability. It might also be worth mentioning that the UK had a significant role in creating CSDP, no wonder our European partners scratch their heads at our attitude sometimes!

Many on the leave campaign, I think, over exaggerated the timing of a likely ‘EU Army’ but equally, the intended direction of travel was clear and articulated by the EU, greater military integration as a logical extension of greater political integration, it really wasn’t a secret.

We can argue all day about what happened, but it would be pointless, only what will happen is important.

Increasing EU integration without the UK in the EU becomes simultaneously both more likely and less likely. It is more likely because the UK was a brake on the more zealous in the EU for more defence integration but in a post Brexit EU, there are matters of more importance to consider and the widespread and increasing ‘euroscepticism’ on the continent means it is increasingly unlikely.

The degree of UK/EU defence integration is quite low but still tangible.

European defence organisations include the European Defence Agency (EDA), Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR), European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS) and Eurocorps.  Various committees and staff groupings also exist, as does the European Satellite Centre and the EU Intelligence & Situation Centre (EU INTCEN). On a more security than defence basis, EUROPOL is the EU’s law enforcement agency.

OCCAR is an organisation for the through life management of defence projects but only Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK are so called ‘member states’. In addition to the member states, ‘participating states’ participate in programmes on equal terms; these being Finland, Turkey, Luxembourg, Sweden, Poland and the Netherlands. Programmes managed by OCCAR relevant to the UK equipment programme include the A400M, UK/FRA Maritime Mine Countermeasures and FSF-PAAMS (systems for the Type 45 destroyers).

I can’t see any change in this.

Eurocorps has its roots in a 1992 agreement between France and Germany. The ‘Framework Nations’ are Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Poland and Spain with ‘Associated States’ being Greece, Italy and Turkey, yes, Turkey. It comprises approximately 1,000 personnel and is deployed on the orders of the Common Committee, it is certified as a High Readiness Force for NATO. EUROCORPS is a headquarters function for the Franco-German Brigade and additional contributions from the framework nations.

This will likely continue, but the UK’s involvement was none to minimal in any case.

Where the UK has been involved to a greater level is EU peacekeeping and stabilisation operations, perhaps more security than defence. Since 2003, the EU has engaged in approximately 30 overseas defence operations. What has characterised these is their relatively low risk, limited mandate and narrowly defined objectives; ceasefire monitoring, training and border assistance etc.

A good example is EUFOR Althea that took over from NATO SFOR in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2004, it is still active and doing good work. The UK has generally avoided participation in these missions, tending to be deployed on other more demanding operations, but it does support one or two.

EUNAVFOR Somalia (Operation Atalanta), the current counter piracy mission off the Horn of Africa is commanded from the Northwood HQ complex in the UK. Those that think this is the UK being enthusiastic about EU defence are missing the point that in the EU, only the UK has the experience and infrastructure to command a multi-national out of area maritime operation. The current Operation Commander is on Major General Rob Magowan CBE, Royal Marines.

It won’t happen overnight but clearly, EUNAVFOR is an EU organisation that the UK will not be a part of.

The MoD must comply with EU regulations for purchasing equipment and supplies, namely the EU Defence and Security Public Contract Regulations (DSPCR) 2011 that is the enabling UK legislation for the EU Defence and Security Directive (2009/81/EC)

In the reasons why section, it states;

The European Commission (“the Commission”) believes the current EU “Classic” Directives do not always permit effective defence and sensitive security procurement. It believes as a consequence that some EU Member States exempt procurements from these Directives to avoid burdensome rules or for economic reasons rather than to protect national security interests.

The Treaty for the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) made exceptions for national security procurement exemptions under Article 346. This allowed pretty much anything purchased by national defence ministries to be exempted and national defence industries protected from competition, France buying French aircraft and Germany buying German tanks etc.

The DSPCR attempts to change this and allows non EU regulation procurement only for ‘truly exceptional cases’, nuclear warheads for example. It sets out procedures and thresholds for defence and security procurement with the intent of opening up the EU wide defence market. EU purchasing regulations often get a rough ride but this attempts to open up one of the last remaining closed markets and one look at equipment inventories of France, Germany, Italy and Spain and it becomes immediately obvious why.

Version 1.3 of the MoD’s guidance document were published only a few weeks ago.

The UK is a significant defence exporter, about 20% of the global market, but only a very small amount of this is to the EU. Of the big three, France has the highest percentage of domestic sales, i.e. French guns for French soldiers, at 77%, for the UK, it is 58% and Germany 57%. The UK also accounts for the largest share of EU defence turnover, 31%, compared to the next two, France at 26% and Germany at 17%.

Depending on the nature of the exit negotiations these may remain in force or removed completely. It must be said though, defence exports from the UK to EU nations are relatively modest.

The French Senator, Daniel Reiner, and member of the Senate Defence Commission summed it up quite well a few weeks ago;

I do not all buy the argument that if they leave Europe then we lose a defence partner. We do not lose a defence partner: things will simply not happen in the framework that we had imagined and that we’re having trouble building with them anyway

The A400M will continue to be managed by OCCAR, as it does for Turkey.

The UK/NL amphibious force and the UK/FRA reaction force will continue as now.

The Royal Marines will still train in Norway, Dassault and BAE will still develop FCAS and the Royal Air Force will still work with Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug GmbH for the Typhoon.

Security cooperation is perhaps more of a challenge because it is more integrated but I tend to the position that in matters of security, politics will take a second place. Dedicated and intelligent people doing difficult and dangerous tasks will find a way to protect the citizens of Europe. The structures may be different and there may need to be more bilateral arrangements but underneath the frothy surface, politicians and security professionals will get on with things.

Now that may be seen as a bit wishful thinking without a plan but in this, I have faith, I have faith because too much is at stake.

EUROPOL would continue to operate with the UK, as it does on an operational level with 15 other non-EU organisations including the USA, Interpol, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland. We would of course lose influence with EUROPOL but given that most of Europe now models its anti-terrorist approach on the UK’s CONTEST strategy, not because we are in the EU, but because it is the best way to do it, this might actually be less than we think.

This is a key point, whilst the UK’s influence at a political level on the EU will certainly wane, at an operational level it will continue, simply because we know what we are doing, this would continue, again, because it is in everyone’s self-interest to do so.

From a day to day defence management perspective, I think relatively little will change.

Exchange Rates

If exchange rates, particularly US Dollar and Euro exchange rates move out of expected ranges, the MoD will either be paying more, or less, than expected.

I say expected ranges because the MoD will predict exchange rates and plan accordingly in all future spending.

Payment profiles (when and how much) over a project lifecycle can, and do change. The MoD is no different to any organisation buying products and services from other countries in the same respect. Payment profiles can be adjusted to accommodate short and medium term change in exchange rates after negotiation with suppliers. Slowing payments or speeding them up is a normal activity and currency contingency is a perfectly standard component of major project cost accounting. Sometimes a project suffers, sometimes it benefits, especially over a long project. The NAO Major Projects Report reveals a total of eight adjustments to, for example, the A400M project, because of exchange rate variations.

Exchange rate movement is normal, it is accommodated in project risk accounting and therefore, the knock on effect to other programmes in the equipment plan may not be disastrous, it is why the MoD has contingency budgets and buys foreign currency positions and uses bond financing.

The big question is, can the existing arrangements accommodate both a sustained and large change, outside of expected and planned for parameters.

The answer is of course, that would depend upon the magnitude and duration of the change.

The most recent Major Projects Equipment Report 2015 and Equipment Plan 2015 to 2025 Report from the National Audit Office sounded a warning about how the Equipment Plan is contingent on as yet unrealised ‘efficiency savings’.

The Equipment Plan was always at risk from a failure to achieve these savings, so additional exchange rate induced costs add additional risk to the equipment plan being achievable.

Major projects with significant US Dollar exposure include P-8A, F-35B, Apache E and Protector (Certified Predator B). Because we import relatively small amounts of equipment from EU countries, Euro exposure is arguably less, some in the complex weapons pipeline and MCM projects perhaps, the A400M has already largely been paid for although support contract costs may suffer depending upon direction of travel in exchange rates.

Strategically, Successor is more important than any of those three, although a good case could be made for including P-8 within the Successor cost envelope given the former’s importance to the latter.

There is a flip side, if the Pound weakens significantly against the US Dollar, defence exports from the UK to the USA would potentially rise, perhaps with some interesting implications for products with significant UK content, the F-35B for example.

Currency risk is a very real risk but we do not yet know the longer term future of exchange rates, the current depressed rates and volatility is not the steady state position.

The Wider Economy

Since the global crash the financial infrastructure has reportedly been reformed and strengthened to withstand economic shock and talk of the EU punishing the UK may well be premature. It will come to a balance of political an economic self interest. Because modern economies are interconnected at every level, the logical consequence of the EU punishing the UK is the EU punishing itself. With many parts of the EU’s economy in a much poorer state than the UK it would be against national economic self interest to create artificial barriers to economic activity.

We will just have to wait and see what the negotiating positions are over the coming months.

Whilst exchange rate risk may impact a subset of current and planned defence expenditure, the wider economy will affect them all.

If the wider economy suffers significantly then it is a pretty safe assumption that defence will take its share of the burden, the share to be determined by political considerations.

This assumes that a Government response to a shrinking economy (and by definition government income) will be to reduce public spending instead of raising borrowing or adjusting priorities. If the economy suffers significantly, the Government will likely deploy all three.

It is also unwise to make the assumption that a future economic downturn is wholly attributable to Brexit and a future in which the UK remained in the EU would be immune from the widely predicted global recession.

There has been a widespread acknowledgement that a global down turn was a distinct possibility and the economic problems of many EU members being swept under the carpet by successive rounds of of debt financing. A reasonable person might conclude that whilst the economic risk of Brexit is hugely elevated, the economic risk of remain was far from zero.

If we look at the Treasury’s recent forecast it models a shock and severe shock scenario in which the combination of declining economic activity, increasing debt payments and increasing unemployment costs reduce discretionary public spending by several percentage points.

Defence will unlikely to be immune and shaking the magic ‘efficiency’ tree is equally unlikely to compensate.

In the shock scenario, the increase in Public Sector Net Borrowing would be 0.7% GDP and 1.3% of GDP for 2016/17 and 2017/18. In the severe shock scenarios these rise to 1.1% and 2.1% respectively. Actual increases are predicted to be £17.3 Billion in 2106/17 and £53.5 Billion the year after.

The table below summarises the forecast for those and other years.

Technical_Note_-_Fiscal_impact.pdf_-_2016-06-25_21.14.47

The report notes that even the severe shock scenario does not include potential ‘tipping point’ effects so the final figures could be worse.

The report rightly notes that these figures are based on the assumption that no action was taken to reduce borrowing. As described above, the government would have the option to reduce spending, increase borrowing, change priorities, or a combination of all three.

Summer 2015 Budget commitments included a defence budget increase of 0.5% in real terms per year out to 2021 and others such as increases in special-forces and counter terror budgets. Fundamentally though, the Government has committed to spending 2% of GDP on defence every year to 2020/21.

GDP falls, defence spending falls, in proportion (assuming all other things equal)

Assuming the worst, i.e. the Severe Shock scenario, MoD budgets would reduce in line with GDP reductions by 6% in 2018.

The MoD’s 2017/18 budget is stated to be £36 Billion, a 6% haircut would mean the MoD has about £2 Billion less.

Whether this £2 billion would be spread evenly across personnel, equipment purchases and support is open for discussion. The graphic below shows the distribution of the 2014/15 budget for illustrative purposes.

Finance_and_Economics_Annual_Bulletin_Departmental_Resources_Statistics_2015_-_20151203-TL_Bulletin_Revision.pdf_-_2016-06-26_21.13.26

The 2010 SDSR by way of comparison, inflicted an 8% budget cut.

Remember, the 6% reduction is based on an ‘all things being equal’ reduction in GDP as represented by the severe shock scenario AND maintaining defence spending at 2% of GDP.

Even if spending were maintained at 2% of GDP, it would still mean a reduction in real terms of 6%, two percentage points better than SDSR 2010, which as we  know, was bruising.

There are an awful lot of assumptions here, the main one being that the Treasury ‘Severe Shock’ estimate is realised, let’s be honest, it could be worse, it could be better. Many have challenged the assumptions and modelling methods used by the Treasury and it completely discounts any currency or trade positives, but as the report notes, it excludes tipping point effects which could be even worse.

Would there need to be an SDSR in 2017, not necessarily, although it would seem wise?

The worst case scenario assumes a budget reduction approximately 75% of that in SDSR 2010.

Would we look at the second carrier, F-35B numbers, plans for Apache E, Protector, complex weapons, FCAS, P-8A, Army personnel numbers, Ajax, MIV, Strike Brigades and Project Morpheus, frankly, it would be silly to try and second guess individual cuts because as we know from all past defence reviews, the pain is (adjusted for time) shared equally.

The simple truth is we simply do not know what the future holds for the wider economy but fundamentally, the defence budget is not immune from any rise or fall in our national economic well-being.

Scottish Independence and Irish Unification

Perhaps the biggest elephant in the room is Scottish independence.

It is probably fair to say that the issue of Scottish independence will always exist whilst there is a Scottish National Party (SNP) that enjoys popular support, the decision to leave the EU has prompted fresh calls for another independence referendum.

The breakup of the Union would have significant defence implications, not least being the basing of nuclear attack and Trident submarines. The Successor programme is already planned to consume a significant proportion of the defence budget, moving basing south would make it even more expensive and therefore a larger proportion of a potentially smaller defence budget.

With this in mind, its viability would continue to be questioned, and this would be ‘a big one’. Timing is key, the main gate decision looms and delay places the capability at risk. Scottish independence would squeeze defence capabilities from both ends.

Even with Scottish independence, even with a reduction in GDP and even with wider priorities, I think it would be a very foolish government to withdraw the UK’s strategic deterrent.

It would cost more and mean reductions elsewhere in the budget but this is what happens with priorities.

People predicting an end to Trident in the event of Scotland leaving the UK underestimate its importance outside of pure defence, they might not like it, but if it comes down to a choice between aircraft carriers, fighters and tanks, Trident will win all day every day and twelve times on Sunday.

Will a referendum happen, will the SNP carry that referendum, who knows, but the economic and political landscape is very different from the last time the people of Scotland were asked. Whilst there may well be more enthusiasm now, the reality of a shale pegged Brent Crude at $48 per barrel, the need to join the Euro, various other EU membership requirements and the potential for trade negotiations may well prove to take the shine of current enthusiasm, or it may not.

My personal view is that if the Scots want to go their own way, we must all respect their democratic decision, whatever the consequences.

Who knows, maybe super duper devo max is the more likely outcome but it would be a brave person indeed to predict the outcome of this issue.

Alongside Scottish independence there have been calls from the usual suspects for a border poll but this seems to be a remote possibility and if there was any place where sensible cool heads will prevail, it is in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Nationalist and loyalist terrorism, although seemingly unlikely, is another risk that may be elevated

A Few Thoughts on Priorities

Going forward it would be difficult to propose anything detailed because there is politics and economics to resolve first but it is possible to think out aloud on a few priorities.

It would be sensible to work on an interim SDSR that provides some direction even though many decisions will be dependent upon economic factors beyond the control of the MoD.

There are things the MoD can do that are not wholly dependent on budgets, and those levers should be furiously manipulated in the next few years.

The first lever to pull should be on bilateral arrangements.

Bilateral defence agreements have a track record of quiet success and there is no reason why the UK could not enter into any number of similar arrangements with European nations. Looking north, the first likely candidate could be with Norway, Sweden, Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Greenland. This may mirror potential political partnerships and yes, if Scotland leaves the union, it would also make sense to include them as well.

Existing arrangements with France and the Netherlands should continue, in fact, we should actively strengthen them where we can.

The 2015 SDSR described a far greater ambition than the French equivalent. For France to maintain parity with the UK, she will have to spend more, an unlikely prospect. That said, UK French bilateral defence and security co-operation is the highest it has been for a long time. The original Lancaster House agreement has been implemented with some vigour by both nations and the latest agreement a short time ago adds to it. Joint investments in maritime mine countermeasures, complex weapons and unmanned aircraft systems have been supplemented by lower profile but equally significant cooperation on nuclear and materials technology. The UK has been a stalwart ally of the French, supporting them in Mali and others locations. The French have extremely professional forces and excellent defence industrial and research capabilities. It is irritating in the extreme to see anti French xenophobia mixed up with the EU debate.

Second, the UK should confirm its absolute commitment to NATO, and especially the eastern NATO nations facing a resurgent and threatening Russia.

This makes sense from both a defence and political perspective. The Poles are keen supporters of the EU but they feel threatened by Russia and will be unimpressed with the institutions of the EU, we need allies in the EU to help our exit negotiations and forward basing some Army units in Poland, perhaps even some RAF Typhoons would be a powerful demonstration of commitment to NATO and the east of Europe.

Despite the existence of EU treaties and an overall desire for greater EU defence capabilities, it is NATO that continues to provide the principle means of territorial defence and out of area power projection for European states. Whilst the EU does provide some element of underpinning economic and political power for NATO, when it comes down to it, NATO is the cornerstone of defence.

Defence may also turn out to be one of the UK’s major bargaining chips with the EU in forthcoming negotiations. Although we sometimes turn self-criticism into an art form, the UK has a hugely capable armed forces currently engaged in training and combat operations around the globe, contributing to western security.

We should not forget the UK is still a relatively big dog when it comes to defence, however shabby and threadbare we look upon ourselves sometimes.

The UK is consistently ranked highly in global soft power indices.

Given that the UK is the only nation with a legally mandated 0.7% of GDI spend on Overseas Development Assistance and a range of other soft power levers, it seems unlikely that this will be hugely diminished by Brexit. Given that the UK contributes in excess of 15% of the EU’s ODA budget, a budget over which there is very little accountability and even less UK control, that £1 billion, approximately, will be available for spending by DFiD, which despite people moaning, is much more accountable and transparent.

UK soft power will continue to be held in high regard whether we are in our out.

We all understand the blurring of lines between ODA and defence spending but these are minor issues in the next few years and it we may see some temporary derogation from current rules and commitments in ODA.

If the wider economy does suffer badly, it will be politically impossible to defend 0.7% of GDI on Overseas Development Assistance. Whilst it would seem unlikely for that 0.7% to be reduced to 0.0%, it would seem prudent to plan for a reduction or a more visible changing of priorities to higher profile ‘emergency response’ type capabilities. There has to be a hard-nosed political element for every Pound we spend.

Conversely, the ‘trade not aid’ argument is strengthened by Brexit as the UK is free to pursue bilateral trade arrangements with emerging economies and again, defence may play some small part in this.

The UK’s membership of international organisations will remain unchanged and it would not be ridiculous to suggest that the UK should still take some role in some EU security issues, sanctions against Russia for example. Whilst there is a temptation to try and undermine the EU, this would be against our best interests and publicaly stating that the UK supports the European mainland EU in order to stop any domino effect would be another bargaining chip.

One of the principle fears of the EU and driving forces behind a ‘painful divorce’ is the possibility of contagion.

Making clear that Brexit is a UK only activity and providing positive support for the EU without the UK buys friends. Avoiding providing any succour to European far right parties is simply an act of self-interest, besides being the right thing to do.

Language is important, the presentation is important, wise heads and not buffoonery is needed.

We need to show our European partners the respect they deserve.

The UK and European defence research and industrial base are vital to the wider economy, actually thinking about a defence industrial strategy rather than cuffing it is a more of a necessity than ever.

Finally, we need to think about our service personnel and civil servants in defence, there may be tough times ahead, but providing re-assurance that they remain a priority is vital.

Summary

This all looks at the issue from a narrow ‘defence only’ perspective. The majority have clearly rejected the EU, whether that was a sophisticated rejection of Monnet Schuman objective of a politically unified Europe, a desire for reduced immigration or simply a desire for political accountability, it matters not. Voting motivations will have changed from person to person but polling has shown that for remain voters, the principle concern was economic and for leavers, the principle concern was democratic accountability, regardless of economic impact. This does not mean other factors were not important, but it would seem that efforts to draw simplistic conclusions should be resisted.

Regardless, for the day to day mechanics of defence and security, things may change, but it would be a reasonable assumption that they will not change significantly.

Taking a wider view, the vulnerability of defence to the UK’s economy is no more or less than ever, if the economy suffers, so will defence. The risk of Scottish independence never went away but it could be argued that Brexit presents an increased risk which may be realised, or it may not.

Again, let us not be too certain of the future, a lesson we should all be well schooled in by now.

Until we know, we don’t know.

There are many things we might do to re-assure allies and use our considerable defence capability to enhance the Brexit process, it does not have to be all doom and gloom but please let us not make any mistakes in thinking there are no potentially serious consequences ahead.

Democratic accountability is the foundation of security and that is what most people voted for, short to medium term problems may be many, but ultimately we should not forget that, it is after all, what so many recent conflicts have been about.

 

About The Author

Think Defence hopes to start sensible conversations about UK defence issues, no agenda or no campaign but there might be one or two posts on containers, bridges and mexeflotes!

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80 Comments on "Defence Implications of Brexit – Further Thoughts"

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Peter Feeney

Excellent, reasoned, level headed, forward leaning article. Politicians would do well to note the tone and intent, stop bleating and “Pick up the step”!

HMArmedForcesReview

Excellent article. Several points:

Norway isn’t a EU member and will likely never will be. Norway takes its NATO and defence obligations seriously and the Royal Marines are always welcome there.

Scotland, no sorry the SNP can try its lucky again. It’s not just “Trident” at stake, it’s all the conventional forces (MCM, QRA, Adaptable Force Brigade and units) as well, plus the whole idea of security (internal, external, GCHQ). Same as in 2014, same as today. Oh yes, not forgetting the economic side of it.

Elizzar

I would humbly (and quietly, so not as to upset some folks) suggest Scotland is in a worse financial situation now than in 2014, with the way oil is and their dependence on English tax mnies. I think (!) it would be close, but a second referendum would just have them stick with us, if done within the next year. Otherwise an excellent article TD. The only caveat I would add, based on my current observations, is “where the hell are our leaders?”. Our MPs all seem to have F-off’d somewhere. We need strong leadership to steady HMS Britain, and most seem to have done one (or be at Glastonbury, or Gay Pride etc …). Cameorn might not have liked the result, but if he was truly honourable, he’d be dealing with the shite he as PM is meant to deal with. It seems more like a childish case of “its my ball and I’m going home”, so no one can play …

LouisB

Nicely put – well rounded and pertinent – gives a good picture of the overall situation.

Stewart Hitchen

The present political masters must have Winston and Clement spinning in there graves I was under the illusion that when the country demands leadership they put it first! The prime minister Monk of no 11(recent days) and the leader of the opposition should be ashamed of the actions since the referendom. Or Inactions would be more truthful comment on the leaders of bubble that now frequents sw1.

JohnHartley

As I have said on the other thread, we should all calm down & see what deal, if any, Merkel proposes to Britain.
In an ideal world, it will be some sort of honour all round, associate membership of the EU. We have a referendum on that next Spring & by this time next year, we wonder what all the fuss was about.
Of course, if Juncker gets his way & tries to punish Britain, then a full blown tariff war breaks out & while it harms the UK economy, it backfires & bankrupts many European farmers/producers that have already lost their Russian exports. They then cannot repay their loans to the frail European banks.
As for defence, I hate the faffing & have moaned about the delay on T26, but I think, for now, we have to halt signing for anything, until the dust settles.
For example Trident. If we are still a United Kingdom with a P5 UN seat, then we need to replace it, but what if we lose Scotland/N.I. & our UN seat? Then the EU has to face Putin, with only French nukes to hide behind. Yes, there is the US, but Congress/Senate already thinks Europe does not do enough to defend itself.

JohnHartley

P.S. Gay Pride. Contrary to popular opinion, I do not spend my Saturday evenings wandering around Soho, but last night I was walking through the theatre district & got caught in the tale end of the Pride crowds. The local fire station had joined in & was allowing visitors. I saw 2 lesbians posing in a page 3 style on the front of one engine, while another was in the cab, pretending to drive, while yet another lesbian took the photo.
I usually take flack from a certain person in the Far East, but I was proud that modern Britain, even post Brexit vote, was at ease with that, unlike Singapore, where just being Gay is still illegal in 2016.

‘The nation has decided, although as we know, there is currently all sorts of activity trying to reverse the decision’ and that is truly the saddest thing of all, to witness politicians from both sides of the house try and squirm their way out from their duty to this great nation and the electorate, essentially, enforcing a dictatorship on their own people for their own nefarious ends.

Who are these people and how did they take over our country?

TSB

Very nice TD – as always. Unfortunately my technical competence only allows me to share this with Fecbook and Twitter, but I’d rather share it with my Business contacts on LinkedIn… Any ideas?

TSB

X Facebook :-)

Repulse

Post Brexit, I’d suggest that defence was even more important not less and therefore should be ring fenced. However, I do agree with a SDSR to reassess risks, equipment needs and most importantly purchasing policy (buy British).

Observer

JH, in the spirit of equality, I’m still waiting for your hetrosexual parade. :)

Does this mean we get to keep our own fish? At £13.90 a kg for cod in Tesco’s (the fish , not the game) its a joke.
As we have a huge share of EU fisheries we will need more Fisheries protection vessels so we best order more quickly to keep the Spaniards out , oops we already have (I can’t believe it was a deliberate act of foresight by the Government though) .
The UK needs to join the European Free Trade Association as are Iceland , Norway , Switzerland and liechtenstein.
comment image
Oh , I have to mention we owe that bulge to the northwest to a man with an amazing story (Hollywood/Elestree listening?) Tom McClean , first man to live on Rockall and claim it for the UK amongst other firsts , solo row the Atlantic, sail the Atlantic in the shortest boat 9’9″ then again in the same boat at 7’9″ courtesy of some deft work with a chainsaw. Oh yes also an ex-Para and the lads from Hereford.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_McClean
(cut and pasted from another thread)

JohnHartley

Observer. Has it ever been illegal to be heterosexual?

Shaun

There’s also the issue of Gibraltar.

Gibraltar has been with the UK longer than it has the EU, but (the UK’s own referendum notwithstanding) cold hard economics in Gibraltar may prevail. I wonder what the future looks like and the implications for UK armed forces in the Med.

Observer

JH under certain conditions, yes! lol Ironically most often through mistranslated or mistranscribed legislation.

Besides, why are you complaining about it? We got it from you! :)

Foreigner

Here is a prediction:

The UK will not leave the EU within the next five years, if ever. I wonder what defense effects the referendum and associated noise will have, if the government does NOT go through with it.

HMArmedForcesReview

On ODA/foreign aid:

UK has been a large contributor to the European Development Fund and the EC (for “development” purposes). With no Article 50 yet, the aid/ODA will continue to be passed through these agencies and other Europeans. When there is formal withdrawal, don’t bet your horses this aid/money will go to the security or defence budget. Mostly likely will be saved for reserves

Lindemyer

For example Trident. If we are still a United Kingdom with a P5 UN seat, then we need to replace it, but what if we lose Scotland/N.I. & our UN seat? Then the EU has to face Putin, with only French nukes to hide behind. Yes, there is the US, but Congress/Senate already thinks Europe does not do enough to defend itself.

1) What has the deterrent got to do with our seat in the UN – (I know its a popular myth but having nukes isn’t what put the P5 there – only 1 was nuclear at the time).
2) How exactly do we lose our P5 seat
All those in favour of removing the UK from the SC say aye, all those against. and that’s 145 for and 1hun… what’s that UK you’ve played your veto motion fails.

Gunbuster's

@HMAFR
Adding the maritime perspective to your comment.
During the Scottish independence referendum it was stated by the PM in the House of Commons:

“There will be eight of the Type 26s and at least another five of the new type of frigate, probably more, and they can be built in Scotland if the conditions are right. The only way these ships wouldn’t be built in Scotland is if Scotland was independent and didn’t have the national resources of the Royal Navy.”

Add in to the mix the current orders for OPV’s and should the SNP get its way and acheive independence you would have the death of BAe Shipbuilding on the Clyde. Where would the OPV and T26/31 be built/assembled then? Barrow? Cammel Laird?

Then Rosyth…No refit work of any sort. Faslane…all moved south to Falmouth/Plymouth. The Submarine Reactor Test Facility at Dounreay is in the process of decommisioning so that should not be an issue except for the managment of the highly enriched Core H fuel which would then come under the Non Proliferation treaty requirements.

ajay

“What has the deterrent got to do with our seat in the UN – (I know its a popular myth but having nukes isn’t what put the P5 there – only 1 was nuclear at the time).”

In fact 0 were nuclear at the time – the structure of the UN was laid down in the Charter, which was drafted and signed in June 1945, a month before the Trinity test made the US the world’s first nuclear power…

Roger Cross

Further Thoughts”

julesgre

The advantage of the drop of the pound sterling against other currencies (dollar/euro) is only a short-lived advantage. Raw material and transport costs will rise accordingly, thus the ‘factory door’ prices increase; if the company ‘margins’ remain the same, then price of the manufactured product increases making selling/exporting more difficult. Reducing the added ‘margin’ has consequences on investment, share dividends and, ultimately, employment. Economy of scale could reduce the product price as the ‘margin’ would be spread over a larger product manufacturing run, but without further complex negotiations with overseas companies we would not able to take any advantage of economy of scale.

Brian Black

I assume our current hard-on for US FMS could be affected, and Stryker/JLTV for MIV/MRVP won’t be quite as attractive. They do have scale of production on their side though. It’s not entirely clear how far we were going with MIV, so not clear if ambitions could be reigned in a little. I’m sure efforts to find that illusive ‘cheap’ frigate will be redoubled now.

I think real terms ringfencing will be out of the question for defence. The 2% figure should be fairly safe; but I very much doubt the value of that 2% is going to match previous forecasts out to 2025.

One of the reasons we put so much aid/development money through the EU is simply that it is difficult to spend it all. Normal fluctuations in the economy make it difficult to guarantee development funds beyond a certain point without regularly bouncing over our spending commitment. After some level of spending, the EU agency gets whatever remainder is needed to make up our 0.7% GDI commitment.

We could well keep aid money going through the EU. I’m sure some anti-EU folks wouldn’t like it, but it always was a UK sovereign decision to spend this much money.

While the 0.7% figure for overseas development is ‘legally mandated’, no one goes to prison for failing to meet the target. The legislation requires only that the chancellor make a statement to the house to explain why the target has not or will not be met in any financial year – addressing one or more of a number of issues, including the state of the economy. It is a penalty of political embarrassment -no chancellor wants to stand there and say how bad the economy is doing- but the money is available for other priorities. The political embarrassment for raiding the aid budget might be minimal if the chancellor can say he warned of a downturn if the public voted themselves out of the EU.

It’s noticeable that the unelected commission has been living up to their unpopular image in the UK, and threatening punitive actions, while the elected heads of state with their own unruly electorate have been a lot less hostile, and more pragmatic. They don’t want to antagonize anti-EU elements in their own countries.

There could be a longer-term effect in the EU of diminishing the ideological drive towards expansion and unification, and of increasing the effort to carry public opinion along with the EU project. This could slow down the development of things like common foreign and defence policies, and EU military structures.

JohnHartley

Observer. Just how long exactly, will Singapore cling to Colonialism as an excuse to persecute the Gay community?

Simon

Great article TD.

On 5th June 1975 people voted to remain in the EEC. They did not however, vote to devolve power to Brussels. Perhaps this is where we are heading – back in time to the EEC. How did we cope then, what was the UK at that point, and how different are we now?

I can’t see T26 or Successor being ordered in the current climate. Too many high risk unknowns.

JohnHartley

I need to follow my own advice & urge calm.
Look, if Merkel comes up with some honour all round, associate status for the UK, then a referendum on that next spring, could lead to a return to normality by this time next year.
The loss of Trident & the P5 UN seat, is worse case scenario. It would only happen if no deal was done with the EU, a tariff war leading to mutual poverty broke out, Scotland & NI, break away from the UK, remaining England & Wales decide to retreat from the World & economise on major power status. Lets hope it does not come to that.

Observer

“Observer. Just how long exactly, will Singapore cling to Colonialism as an excuse to persecute the Gay community?”

JH, can you quote a single case of a conviction for me?

Jason

I never thought I would actually even consider it was possible, but I’m starting to wonder if maybe our position in NATO is going to become a factor in the next couple of years.

It is starting to look more and more as though the rest of the EU wants to punish us and make an example out of us. There really seems to be a lot of voices in not only the Commision and EU parliament, but in other Governments and their advisors, that they can really punish us and it will have very little effect on themselves. There is at least a few articles on spiegel, where this is repeated, and argued that it won’t really effect German economy even if they had no trade deal with the UK. At least one seems to suggest no trade with the UK. They also seem to think that the UK economy will completely collapse and they can stand back and laugh. Of course at the same time as they say then need to punish us to set a example and make any other country too scared to consider leaving, they criticize the UK campaign for being negative and trying to scare people and not telling everyone all the good things.

I don’t think it will come to it, but if they really do believe these sort of things, then is it possible we are heading towards a trade war. They seem to think that who ever does our negotiating, will consider that we are in a position of extreme weakness and will jump at any scraps they throw. Although knowing the politician we get, I wouldn’t rule that out. Boris seems to be slowly trying to back peddle to a position where there won’t be much change and maybe it will be a Norway type solution. However I don’t think it is ever going to be accepted by the UK population. I don’t think even the majority of people who voted remain would accept a Norway type agreement. Which is what they are suggesting is the best we could possible hope for. I just can’t see the majority of people accepting us following virtually all the rules the EU make without a vote/ Paying basically the same amount that we pay now, and still allowing complete free movement.

Of course while they are making all these threats and there will be no special treatment or favors, they are saying that we have to start negotiating now, as we have a responsibility to them. While in relation to defence, it is reported that they want us to continue to provide the command for the EU missions in the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean. As none of the other countries are able to replace Northwood, at least in the short to medium term. I’m not sure how true that is, as I thought maybe France would have been able to replace it at least in the medium term. However it just seems another example of them thinking they are in complete control and we have to do everything they say on their terms with out any chance of anything in return.

Now I’m actually pro EU, and was very split on which way to vote. As I’m pro EU, but am just tired of the way a lot of it works and acts. I would fully like to be in a reformed EU. However I just don’t think we will ever get that reformed EU. There is a lot of talk about the need to reform now, but I think in the end it will be just more of the same and ignore and insult anyone who says anything needs to change.

So back to my point about NATO. If the relationship really does come under strain in the next couple of years, I can see at least some voices starting to question why we are in NATO which will be seen as there to protect the eastern part of a EU that we are no longer in, or soon won’t be. The same EU that is trying to inflict as much pain on our economy as it can. I can see a similar situation as you have with the voices in the US, asking why they pay for the defence of Europe. Of course we are closer to Russia than they are, but what serious chance is there of Russia ever being a non nuclear threat to the actual UK any time soon. Of course we have interests in the world that we need protect and which require a united front, but if the country starts to feel the effects of a recession and the EU is seen to either trying to make it worse as an example or gloating (as some leading MEPs have already been about the fall in the UK stock prices), then I can see resentment building up against the cost of being in NATO that main function in the next few years will be to reassure the Eastern EU countries.

Even if this doesn’t happen in the next few years and things are more civil. I wonder if such feelings could still develop in time (say ten years), especially if the EU does create a joint armed forces.

I know it is extremely unlikely that we would ever leave NATO, but I can still see it starting to become a issue if things go bad, or it takes too long for things to settle down.

Mike W

TD

Excellent article. I think you have got it right on Scotland, particularly the following points. I read the other day that Scotland spends £15 billion more on public services than it gets from its tax revenues. That amount of money (£15 billion) is transferred from the UK government to make up the shortfall. If Scotland left the UK it would lose that amount (i.e. a subsidy equivalent to 14% of GDP!). There would also be, as you suggest, the membership contribution it would be expected to pay (probably about another £1.5 billion a year). Elizar also touches on that point and the fact that the oil price has plummeted.

There are also the considerable problems concerning which currency it would adopt. All these problems are in addition to the points that Gunbuster’s has mentioned about what will be the undoubted loss of military bases and manufacturing facilities:
“you would have the death of BAe Shipbuilding on the Clyde. Where would the OPV and T26/31 be built/assembled then? Barrow? Cammel Laird?
Then Rosyth…No refit work of any sort. Faslane…all moved south to Falmouth/Plymouth.” And, I might add, what about Lossiemouth?

I think that at the moment Nicola Sturgeon is bluffing.

Necessary Evil

Unless some kind of deal is made soon, I think we will have to say bye-bye to all the shiny new toys we were promised in the last SDSR. We may have to say bye-bye to quite a lot of other things too, including a growing economy.

JohnHartley

Observer. While the law is still on the books, people will still be intimidated & unable to be open about themselves.

Tiny Toy

I have to disagree with you on a couple of the points you raise, and would like to suggest some areas you’ve overlooked as well.

First, you say that Scotland isn’t likely to be an issue. It’s much too early to say that with any kind of certainty, and the effects on defence manufacturing, recruitment, the deterrent etc are too important to simply gloss over. It requires a coherent backup strategy.

“NATO is the cornerstone of defence.” While true, bear in mind that the US is packing up its European operations and moving out to concentrate on the South/East China Sea theatre. Where previously the special relationship might have made them more interested in our affairs, we were primarily useful to them as an Anglo-Saxon fulcrum to influence EU policy, which will will no longer be able to do. That special relationship will be withering as we speak.

“UK soft power will continue to be held in high regard whether we are in our out.” This is just simply false. Our global influence is absolutely determined by our economic power, trade agreements, treaties. It has been dealt a devastating blow just now since most of the world knows full well we’ve made a decision against our own economic best interest. We look at best slightly confused, and at worst reckless and immature. Ask anyone in diplomatic circles whether we have the same soft power as this time last week, they will all tell you the same thing.

Regarding foreign aid I agree with you although that’s not necessarily a good thing since aid can be an excellent tool for soft power and also stimulate trade.

You seem to have overlooked the fact that various threats now present themselves that were not present previously or were far more remote:

1. Gibraltar. Spain wants it back, until now the EU has prevented them from doing so. Once the two years are up there is basically nothing short of declaring war on them that we can do to prevent them from taking it by force or simply performing area denial and choking it off to be useless. Since they are a NATO member and have written a Gibraltar exception into every treaty they’ve signed, we wouldn’t have any allies in such a war. The Treasury has said that there will be fewer funds available for defence and the plans we have are earmarked for necessary things like maritime patrol so it’s unlikely we could ramp up quickly to win an all-out war with Spain. As soon as we kick off the Article 50 procedure, one of our better strategic bases is lost.

2. The EU as a whole will be massively weakened by the departure of the UK. That means the remaining states are much less likely to take a hard line on Russian antics in e.g. Ukraine. Putin is likely to take advantage of this. It’s unlikely he will act directly against us at least initially but a stronger Russia is more of a headache for NATO. Plus we have to consider the opening of the NEP for trade due to global warming, which may prove vital to British trade interests and which Russia has the naval capability to deny us when it is strong.

2a. Following on from the above, it might be the case that we’ve actually provoked the complete eventual dissolution of the European common market in which case infighting between European states including potentially military action will again be on the table just as it was prior to its formation. This is probably more of a long-term issue though although it’s likely Russia would want to lend the process a hand.

3. Falklands. Argentina is in a shambles but then so are we, if our government is as divided as our population currently is then we’d be unable to act coherently and decisively and they might chance their hand. If we’re not making friends then others wouldn’t help us retake them and might actively hinder us.

4. Being unable to share intelligence in the way we’ve been used to in the EU poses a heightened risk that we would be unable to detect or prevent terrorist activity at a time when 4GW is massively on the rise in comparison to conventional warfare.

Sorry to be all doom and gloom on you but if we are to be prepared then we must consider worst case scenarios.

JohnHartley

Merkel is now saying she will not talk to Britain until article 50 has been invoked. I had hoped for wise leadership. That now looks unlikely.

Observer

JH, you do know you guys had it on the books for 120 (actually 122 to be precise) years and only repealed it in 2007?

So you ask how long? I’ll say 120 years which would be how long it would take for a culture to liberalize to the point of it being acceptable, using you guys as a template. Assuming a counterculture movement takes place.

Remember, the UK was the one who originated the law and kept it for more than a hundred years. Obviously there was some reason the law was promulgated in the first place and if you want the reason for that, you have to look at your circumstances then, not ours since the origin point isn’t from us. Laws are reactive, not active. They are formulated because something hit the fan, not because someone woke up bored and decided to give Parliament something to do.

Interestingly enough, the UK saw the issue as important enough to even export that law to most of its overseas territories, so 377A is also the same law as in India as in Jamaica, Malaysia, Burma and the Maldives.

What might be more useful and interesting is to examine *why* a law that the UK created and saw important enough to export to 42 of its colonies now seem so odious to it. My guess is that there was a massive change in sexual mores since the law was formulated to the present day and if you want to understand why others are not like you (or even why your culture was different from the past), you have to go back and find this “turning point” where your culture took a 180 on your previous course. Then ask yourself that if that event did not happen (as it did not happen to most of the other colonies), would they think the same way as you do? Or even more profoundly, ask would *you* be even be thinking like you currently do as a person is shaped by his culture?

Anyway, way off topic, derailed thread just because of a gay parade lol. It would be rude of us to continue derailing TD’s topic, so why don’t we keep to the EU here and carry this on elsewhere?

JohnHartley

Observer. The UK first decriminalised homosexuality in 1967, not 2007. Following Orlando, I feel no need to pander to homophobes.

Observer

JH, you’re pretty pathetic if your sense of values require you to attack other people. Maybe you and the Islamist extremists have more in common than you realize?

Here I was minding my own (or rather TD’s) business when for reasons unknown, just because you saw a gay parade, you decide to toss a punch over. Very social behaviour that. Then try to justify your aggression by “taking a stand for those in Orlando” when the base problem is that you are aggressive against people that do not share your values. Sounds familiar?

Think you need to do a bit of soul searching about your methods and mindset.

As for name calling, frankly, I don’t care what my colleagues do in bed (and yes, I do have homosexual colleagues, some of them are even nicer people than hetrosexuals like you), why should I be so intrusive into what is called and still is called a “private life”? You forget that there is a 3rd category to the situation. The “indifferentsexuals”. Which translates to “I don’t give a fuck who you sleep with”, which I suspect most people are actually a part of. The situation isn’t “if you are not for me (homophilic) you are against me (homophobic)”. Your sex life isn’t so exciting that most people would want to go voyeur on it. I suspect most of us are more concerned with our own sex life than other people’s.

Translation: You want to go all social justice warrior on me, go someplace else, I’m not interested in other people’s sex life and I’m not going to interfere with who or what you screw. Don’t come and tell me how I have to think either. That to me is a bigger problem than indifferent disapproval, indifferent disapproval still maintains the status quo of peaceful co-existence. Your kind of active disapproval involves attacks on other people and does not believe in co-existence, often inducing and actively seeking divisive conflict.

PS: Though if you do want to screw a dog, do bear in mind that their penis is “barbed” so it’s hard to extract halfway. Know of an A&E case where someone … got stuck. They had to tranq the dog to calm it down and turn it flacid. One of those “once in a career” type of thing. So don’t get the poor dog too riled up.

PPS: Old RN joke in Singapore.
“How do you tell the homosexuals from the real ladies?”
“The real ladies are the ugly ones.” :)
And before mr social justice warrior acts up again, yes I know that only a fraction of homosexuals dress up. This was a joke specific to the transgender community that dresses as females.
It’s quite sad when you have to add disclaimers to even jokes due to “political correctness”….

Repulse

The main thing we should fear is fear itself. People are overacting and the spineless politicians are doing everything to increase the fear and uncertainty. If there was ever time for someone like the Queen to intervene and install a government of stability it is now.

On domestic investment such as the T26 and broader manufacturing there hasn’t been a better time for stimulus and keeping our defence forces strong (and be seen to be strong) is another key element.

Let’s stop navel gazing and get on with it.

JohnHartley

Observer. Did it take your culture 120 years to adjust to the internet? Seems you can fall in line with the modern world pretty quickly when it suits you.
I only mentioned gay pride as someone else on this thread mentioned it in a way that may or may not have been critical. Pre Orlando, I would have let it ride, but not now.
If you don’t know how offensive your comment about the dog was, then I truly despair of you.

Observer

TD, could you do some moderation and deletion on that? No idea what bee got in his bonnet to take a swing at me for no reason, but it’s pretty despicable to take out his temper on some random passerby.

Though I might have accidentally breached medical confidentiality about him and the dog. :)
And if he finds it offensive, well, I found him pretty offensive as well. In more ways than one.

Why would leaving the EU affect our position at the UN and/or NATO?
In all the panic about it, I don’t see why those would be affected?

Not a Boffin

Because the sky is falling obviously…..

@TD A thoughtful and interesting post.

I was opposed to joining the Common Market because I feared the political dimension, voted to stay in both times, but now that the die has been cast and Brexit is a fact, we shall all have to make it work as best we can.

On the handbag fight.

Having Armed Forces Day and London’s Pride March on the same day shows how far we have come.

Homosexual acts in private between consenting adults was decriminalised in 1967.
Homosexuals of either gender could openly serve in UK Armed Forces from 2000.
Apparently transgender personnel could serve from 1999 but who and when the first was I have no idea and we should not care.

As someone said in 1967, I don’t mind it being allowed as long as they don’t make it compulsory.

Tiny Toy

Regarding my previous comment about soft power, Nigel Farage, Brexit poster boy, has now gone to the European Parliament, thumbed his nose at the assembly, and said “ner-ner-ner-ner-ner, who’s laughing now, you bunch of loooosers”.

So clearly it was actually possible to make us look even more like a bunch of irresponsible juvenile delinquents than we did before.

The Other Chris

Par for the course in Louise Weiss, did you hear the opening remarks aimed at the UK?

Of course I say Louise Weiss, or are they summering meeting in Espace Léopold at this time of year?

I lose track.

Chris Mitchell

NATO is the cornerstone of EU defense and that will not change

There is an awful lot of doom sayers out there not the least the media doing its best it seems to cause a financial collapse , remember the media run up to the 2007/8 crash anyone – all doom and gloom and funny enough it did go that way. The media and the billionaires that own them , need to take a more responsible long term out look and just realise the power of propaganda – correction , reporting of global news events has on the public’s mindset and behavioural patterns , critically at times like these their financial dealings. Several billion wage earners deciding to shift their spending/savings plans can have dramatic impact on the business’s they interact with.
A depicting the FTSE250 over the last 5 years looks a lot less dramatic than one over the last 5 days.
https://uk.finance.yahoo.com/echarts?s=%5EFTMC
Oh and on Gib being invaded by Spain ? They would immediately lose the £3.5 billion Ajax order for one, A400M manufacture stopping as the UK parts fail to arrive amongst no Seat cars sold here for another ad infinitum…..Plus at the last count there were 381,000 ex-pats living in Spain and you don’t mess with the grey haired mob :-) On that subject though there are also 253,000 ex-pats in Eire , 172,000 in France , 97,000 in Germany and 72,000 in Italy with 10,000’s spread out all over the remaining EU. Lets hope common sense reigns and their position and the existing EU citizens in the UK remain unaffected.

WiseApe

On a slight tangent I note that we have a new shadow Defence Secretary. I wonder how that Trident review is coming along. Any luck and we’ll have built the boats before it’s published.

Tiny Toy

@The Other Chris: the fact that you think the two are even vaguely comparable does not bode well for the UK’s chances of favourably negotiating the many trade agreements and other sensitive arrangements that are now required.

Tiny Toy

@stephen duckworth: UK exports to Spain are worth $15.5bn. UK imports from Spain are worth $22bn. We need their products more than they need ours. Plus as I said they don’t actually need to invade Gibraltar in order to make it uninhabitable and unusable.

I don’t really see the relevance of numbers of ex-pats.

@Tiny Toy
I jokingly introduce the ex-pat grey army relieving the Rock to make a point on the 1 million or so UK passport holders who live,work or have retired in the EU. If , as some would have , we started turfing out EU citizens it would be a two way street. Yes we have 2 million EU citizens here but they have mostly established themselves , raising families here and provide 7% of our workforce whilst a good half of the ex-pats are retiree’s. I have Romanian, Estonian , Lithuanian , Polish , Hungarian , Dutch , Spanish , Portuguese , Irish friends living and working here. All of whom are concerned over how this is going to settle out with regards to their right to remain and work here.
I have mentioned before that a minimal impact option on both the UK and the EU would be us joining the EFTA whose existing members have publicly stated would be happy to have the UK join but the EU have to agree.
http://www.efta.int/

The Other Chris

I was under the impression that Commissioners were appointed servants of their respective nations.

Is Juncker empowered to instruct the 27 other Commissioners not to talk to the UK?

JohnHartley

Perhaps now is the time for HMRC to look at the way multinationals use Luxembourg to reduce the tax on their UK activities.

UninformedCivvyLurker
UninformedCivvyLurker

@ Tiny Toy

Your comment – UK exports to Spain are worth $15.5bn. UK imports from Spain are worth $22bn. We need their products more than they need ours – end comment.

Is a very odd way of looking at it and only applies if neither of us can buy from elsewhere.

Surely Spain lose $22bn and we lose $15.5bn if that trade stops full stop.

So Spain lose out more in a full on trade war.

If we can buy from somewhere else even better, if we can also sell what we sell to Spain to someone else, even a bit cheaper, happy days.

Mike W

@UninformedCivvyLurker

Concerning your reply to Tiny Toy, I agree absolutely. You say:

Your comment – UK exports to Spain are worth $15.5bn. UK imports from Spain are worth $22bn. We need their products more than they need ours – end comment.

Is a very odd way of looking at it and only applies if neither of us can buy from elsewhere.

Surely Spain lose $22bn and we lose $15.5bn if that trade stops full So Spain lose out more in a full on trade war.”

Precisely. I was going to reply when Tiny Toy’s comment was posted but couldn’t quite find the time. Anyway, you have put it far more succinctly and incisively than I could have.

One of the most dishonest and misleading pieces of spin I saw in connection with the EU referendum occurred in a Government sponsored pamphlet, which said that over forty per cent of our exports went to the EU, whereas only eight per cent of their exports came to us, the implication being that we had more to lose than they did! Such a specious argument conveniently forgets that the EU consists of twenty-nine countries and that eight per cent of their total exports would amount to vastly more in terms of quantity and financial value than our eight per cent would to them. The truth is that in terms of export trade, as Nigel Lawson said, they need us more than we need them. It is the other way round, Tiny.

Simon

Just been reading the National Security Risk Assessment again.

I just can’t make a case for much of the Royal Navy if push comes to shove. The RFA and the submarines, certainly yes, but the only RN surface asset I can see of use is HMS Ocean for helicopter logistics.

Just wanted to voice my concerns at a time where it is looking like we might lose several chunks of our union.

Simon – If we’re serious about countering incursions by Russian subs then a fleet of quiet surface ships sea pretty essential to me. What T23 is, T26 will be, and T31 might be.

The Other Chris

I don’t think NAB was convinced the stretched VT 90m design that Khareef and the BAE offering for GPFF is based on could be silenced easily. BMT claims Venator has noise reduction considerations. Is that to the same degree as T23 or T26? /shrug

It’s not nailed on that T31 will be either a Khareef or a Venator. Hohum was hinting at a clean sheet design of ASW Frigate deleting the more “global” elements of the T26 design to focus on a core ASW role.

Simon

Peter, I was working on our SSNs and MPA fleets being able to patrol the waters.

Simon

ASW is a team sport. Each element brings unique things: speed, wide area coverage, persistence, stealth etc Making the assumption that you can rely on just two legs of the triangle is guaranteed to degrade performance, as we have discovered since gapping MPA.

Submarine interdiction of shipping or cruise missile strike is one of the few credible threats to our home islands. We would be foolish indeed not to rebuild and retain a full spectrum counter capability.

Added to which our precious handful of SSN are one of our few truly world class attacking assets with which we can reach out and touch our enemies anywhere. The “Belgrano factor” that that a British SSN *might* be lurking undetected is one of our most potent means of interdicting others. They are also currently our sole means of firing cruise missiles from the sea. We *may* in future gain that capability from either T26 or F35B. But neither is currently guaranteed. Especially if Simon cancels the surface fleet!!

Either way if we explicitly tie up our SSN on purely defensive duties we forgo their potent attacking capability.

Last word on ASW: its really difficult. In 1982 we were the acknoweged experts with a mature and fully resourced capability. We brought our very best efforts to protecting the Task Force from the Submarine threat. In spite of that we still couldn’t find and sink the ARA San Luis and she may even have got shots off against the Task Force. We were basically lucky that their torpedos werent fused correctly.

So let’s not imagine for a moment that we can do without ASW surface ships. Ocean or the Carriers would soon be on the bottom if we tried to use them against any of the SSK powers, let alone the Russians or Chinese, without surace ASW escorts.

Simon

Peter,

So you agree that there is little a surface fleet can do to counter the submarine threat.

Also bear in mind that if I cancelled the surface fleet there are no carriers or amphibs to protect (which I agree requires an expeditionary ASW capability).

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

@Simon

Successful ASW in the North Atlantic against a threat like the Russians requires a multi capability force. SSNs and MPA cannot do it alone.
Surface ASW assets especially in the era of LFTAS and modern ASW helos offer coverage, persistence and reaction times.

Simon

You don’t need a T26, T45, QEC or Albion to tow a 2087 and refuel a Merlin.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same

@ Simon

You do if you want to defend yourself and actually be operationally effective instead of a target. Hence why T23 evolved as it has.

Simon

Alternatively just don’t put the ship there in the first place.

Please bear in mind that I’m looking at this from the perspective of “if push comes to shove”. So that means losing Scotland, NI and Gib to the EU. That’s a lot of EEZ and a good chunk of GDP.

All this then skewed into my priorities (which include moving and propping up the submarine industry).

Simon

Remember it’s not *just* about protecting a Task Group off the coast Fuckedupistan. Or indeed a Capital Ship sailing from the Clyde or the Solent.

What a hostile power *could* do if they really wanted to fuck us up is sit in the Western Approaches or the North Sea and start potting container ships. Or our LNG ships. Imagine that nice Mr Putin (or Mr Kim, or some other power) doing that while strenuously denying it in public. He’d only need to sink a couple and our trade would stop. That’s why we need a multi spectrum ASW capability and need it more than a multi division Army. It’s the flip side of being an island.

Simon

Just found out (I’m pretty slow) that Lusty is going to be sold for scrap.

So we’ll get about £3m for her (maybe a touch more due to the weak pound).

Surely she’s worth more than that as a manmade reef after televising her sinking using HMS Astute.

Alternatively she’d be better used if she were grounded at full speed (does she still have engines) into a beach for kids to play on for 20 years or so.

Of course there’s the idea of a grounded (or floating) town for the homeless or prison for criminals.

TAS

Simon, it’ll cost you ten times that to strip out all the asbestos and other gunk that would poison, rather than promote marine life.

JohnHartley

Well it looks as if Obama has given Juncker “words of advice”, as Juncker is now saying EU negotiations with Britain will not be hostile.

@JH
Obama to Juncker
“Grow the f**k up and reel it in!”

Mark

Possible coup in turkey

From the bbc

Both of the main bridges in the Turkish city of Istanbul have been closed by security forces, reports say.
Traffic has been stopped from crossing both the Bosphorus and Fatih Sultan Mehmet bridges, but no reasons have been given.
There are also reports of military aircraft flying over the capital Ankara, with gunshots heard.
It is unclear if the events are related and there has been no official information so far on the deployments.

DavidNiven

@Mark
Turkish prime minister says attempted coup underway, calls for calm

http://uk.reuters.com/article/us-turkey-security-primeminister-idUKKCN0ZV2HK

“Some people illegally undertook an illegal action outside of the chain of command,” Yildirim said in comments broadcast by private channel NTV.

Mark

DN

Tough week to be foreign secretary! Turkey being a NATO member and all

Not exactly a novel scenario for Turkey. If they can make it stick it could actually turn out to be beneficial for Syria and Kurdistan. Depends on who the new strongman turns out to be and how statesmanlike.

Boris will at least be pleased about the positive outcomes for turkish goats.

JohnHartley

The coup seems to have failed. In an ideal world, Turkey would be the model for a new Middle East. Mildly Islamic, democratic, liberal, rule-of-law, prosperous, links to the wider international community of nations.
Instead it is horribly split between Erdogan & his repressive form of Islam, fighting against the Secular heirs to Ataturk (who were quite repressive when they were in power).
All at a time when prosperity in Turkey has stalled. Plus the conflicts on its borders. Very sad.

wpDiscuz
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