Support a proper military Brexit – sign this petition

If the UK is to separate fully from the EU, this must include cutting any ties with the EU’s military which might compromise our ability to act independently.

In order to achieve this, the UK’s independent military capacity must be retained. We therefore encourage our members and supporters to sign this petition, which calls for a halt to proposed cuts to the Royal Marines and the Royal Navy’s amphibious assault ships

Photo by conner395

UK avoids military merger this time, but risks remain

Our colleagues in Veterans for Britain have produced a briefing paper on the ongoing risks of being sucked into EU military integration. You can access this briefing paper by clicking on this link.

VfB has summarised last week’s decision not to sign up to PESCO as follows:-

The UK dramatically halted its blanket consent to EU military schemes at the EU Council meeting of 13 November 2017 by refusing to enter the ‘PESCO’ military union agreement.

Where does that leave the ongoing risk to the UK from entanglement in EU schemes? Our paper  describes the continuing problem. In fact, the risk has not receded.

The PESCO agreement itself is designed to attract and engulf unwitting non-EU countries.

Background: PESCO, or Permanent Structured Cooperation, means participants agree to coordinate all defence decision-making and impose a single rigid structure on their militaries under collective EU authority. Besides the UK, only Ireland, Portugal, Malta and Denmark chose not to enter this merger project.

We would recommend that anyone wishing to be involved in campaigning to maintain our military independence should keep a close watch for new posts on the Veterans for Britain website, as they have considerable expertise in this critical area and thus know what the points at issue really are. We in CIB offer them our full support.

Remainiacs – a view from outside the bubble

If you are reading this  article, chances are you are a strong supporter of the UK leaving the EU. You were probably active during the recent referendum campaign and have been following every twist and turn of events since the June 23rd vote.

Your friends and family are probably fully aware of your passion for politics and often raise the subject of Brexit in conversation. You watch or listen to the news, read a newspaper and follow a few blogs on the internet. Something crops up about Brexit every day.  It is THE issue of our time.. perhaps.

…..or perhaps it’s time to step out of our bubble for a few minutes.

Less than a week after the Brexit vote, I had to go to London. As I walked down the Thames embankment what struck me was the normality of life. Such snippets of conversation as I caught revolved around all manner of topics but not the European Union. It hardly seemed like we had just seen a radical change to the whole future shape of our country.

And this is precisely the point – the EU has never been a big issue for voters. Ask anyone who has stood as a UKIP candidate in a General Election. It was always a big challenge to convince people on the doorsteps that our very future as a sovereign nation was at stake. A survey by YouGov, taken just over a year before the Brexit  vote, put “Europe” well down the list of voter priorities.

What is more, after four months of intensive campaigning, following Mr Cameron’s decision to  forced the EU to the top of the list,  27.79% of eligible voters  – nearly 13 million – didn’t cast their ballot. Remain and leave campaigners alike emphasised that this was the most important vote the electorate was ever likely to cast. Over a Quarter didn’t bother.

Even among those who did vote, many had an abysmal knowledge of what the EU project was actually about and certainly didn’t view it as a life and death issue. Of course, this was precisely Cameron’s strategy. A short campaign would work in his favour. As we know, his strategy failed. In spite of a campaign in which neither of the official organisations covered themselves with glory, the tireless dedication of rank-and-file leave groups up and down the country managed to convince enough of their fellow countrymen that the EU was sufficiently bad news that they should vote to leave it.

But now the vote is behind us, the level of interest in the EU among our countrymen has dropped dramatically. For most of them, whichever way they voted, the issue is behind them. In a recent conversation with an educated man, he told me that he was surprised that people were still working for organisations like the Campaign for an Independent Britain. He seemed to think we had already left the EU and was quite shocked when I told him otherwise.

The point I am making is that for all the talk of a second referendum, there is just no appetite in the country for going through it all again. John Major is living in a fanstasy world if he really believes he is somehow the “voice of the 48%.” A YouGov poll found that by almost two to one, the electorate believed that the result should stand and opposed a second referendum.  What is more, unlike the Danish Maastricht referendum and the Irish rejection of the Lisbon  Treaty, there is no pressure coming from Brussels.  We ned not therefore worry too much about the recent statement by Emily Thornberry, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, that she might support a second referendum.

This is not to say that we’re home and dry. There are malign forces seking to undermine Brexit. Thankfully, so far Mrs May has stood firm, but mischief makers like Richard Branson and Mark Carney would love to derail Bredit if they could.

Even within the government, Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, needs to be watched. He has recently claimed that  he is not using the UK’s military clout to get a better Brexit deal. Some informed opinion suggests that on the contrary, he wants to integrate us as closely as possible with the EU’s future defence strategy. This is not acceptable and we will keep you informed with any developments on this front.

In summary, it is clear that further campaigning needs to be focussed on informing and pressurising our MPs rather than on the general public. The better the deal we end up with, the more the guns of the hard-core remainiacs will be spiked and calls for a second referendum stifled. However,  we are still unclear as to what deal Mrs May is seeking,  while opinion among MPs  is divided on all manner of issues. Vigilance therefore remains the order of the day.  The country does not want a second referendum and we need to ensure they do not get one.

State of disunion

There has been very little to report recently concerning the triggering of Article 50 and Brexit negotiations. Last week, David Davis, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, stated that it would be “improbable” that we would stay within the Single Market. The following day, a spokeswoman for the Prime Minister stated that Mr Davis was only “expressing his opinion.” Likewise, Boris Johnson’s enthusiasm for an Australian-style points system to manage immigration does not represent offical government policy. The same spokesperson said, “There are various ways you can do that and it is something the government is looking at and will come forward with proposals”.

So apart from a statement from Mr Davis that the WTO route looks “unlikely”,we are none the wiser about Mrs May’s exit plans, Indeed, Mr Davis said that “the government will not give away its negotiating position”, although he stated on Monday that the talks may be “the most complicated negotiation of all time.”

One of the biggest surprises following June 23rd’s vote was the reaction of senior figures from the EU member states and its institutions.  After the implication of the vote had sunk in, the message coming from Brussels was “get on with it and get out.” In other words, rather than begging us to reconsider, the powers-that-be wanted the UK to trigger Article 50 as soon as possible to prevent contagion and to make the period of uncertainty as short as possible.

A note of realism has crept in to more recent utterances from across the Channel, recognising that, with David Cameron refusing to allow the Civil Service any opportunity to plan a Brexit strategy before the vote, the UK would have to  do a great deal of homework before being ready to trigger Article 50. However, the “get on with it” message was  restated on Monday by Guy Verhofstadt, the former Belgian Prime Minister who is likely to be the lead Brexit negotiator from the European Parliament.

“I want the UK to trigger Article 50 as soon as possible, so we can finalise these negotiations by 2019,” he said. “I can’t imagine we start the next legislative cycle without agreement over UK withdrawal.”

In view of Mr Davis’ statement about the complexity of Brexit negotiations, this may be a tad optimistic, but from the EU’s point of view, with European Parliamentary elections due in 2019 and the next seven-year budget cycle due to begin in 2021, the desire to move on from Brexit is understandable.

On  Thursday 14th, Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, delivered a “state of the union” address to the European Parliament. In the wake of Brexit, it was hardly going to be a particularly upbeat speech. “Our European Union is, at least in part, in an existential crisis,” he said.

He went on to say that “never before have I seen such little common ground between our Member States. So few areas where they agree to work together.” He has some justification. He and some other Western European leaders are keen to press on with further integration whereas there is very little support for further surrender of soverignty among he former Soviet bloc countries. Their lack of enthusiasm for the EU’s federalism was behind Juncker’s comment that “We have to stop with the same old story that success is national, and failure European. Or our common project will not survive.”

But what was his remedy? More Europe. What a surprise!! With the UK headed for the exit door, the loudest opponent to the establishment of an EU army has been removed. “It is time we had a single headquarters” for the EU’s military missions, he said. “We should also move towards common military assets, in some cases owned by the EU. And, of course, in full complementarity with NATO.”

Surprisingly, there was little mention of the UK referendum.  “We are even faced with the unhappy prospect of a member leaving our ranks, ” he said. Just one sentence.

On Friday (16th) Mr Juncker will travel to Bratislava, Slovakia, to meet with the 27 heads of State. Mrs May will not be going. In view of the manifest differences of opinion within the leaders of the Member states over the refugee crisis and the path of future integration – not to mention the possibility that Greece could re-ignite the Eurozone’s woes, it is hard to imagine  she will lose any sleep over the lack of an invitation.