Security cannot be protected through military means aloneby Emily Thornberry / June 8, 2016 / Leave a comment
Read more: Brexit would not damage UK security
If there’s a campaign equivalent of the silly season, for me it reached a peak when one of the papers carried the headline: “EU army plans kept secret from voters” last month. Even the article itself showed this was complete nonsense. There was no such plan, nothing was being kept secret, and that none of it had anything to do with a so-called “EU army.”
That didn’t stop the Brexiteers though. Conservative MP Liam Fox suggested that the EU was trying to “weaken NATO and undermine our security,” echoing what has become a depressingly familiar refrain in recent weeks. Of course, the “Leave” campaign concentrates on such issues because they do not want to talk about the economy, yet it is precisely the economic impact of Brexit on our nation’s defences that should worry them the most.
The government has committed to a defence budget that is based on a percentage of GDP—two per cent, to be exact. This would buy a great deal less in a post-Brexit economy than it does today.
In a worst-case scenario, cuts could be imposed on a scale last seen in 2010, when the Strategic Defence and Security Review enacted an 8 per cent real-terms cut to the Ministry of Defence’s budget which led to a 20-30 per cent reduction in our military capabilities according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Those who would have us leave the EU also argue that it does not make us safer. They say NATO is the only alliance that counts when it comes to security, and that the EU’s much-maligned Common Security and Defence Policy only gets in NATO’s way. But the choice between NATO and the EU is a completely false one—something that NATO understands as much as anyone else.
Of course, NATO remains our most important military alliance, as it has been ever since its creation. But to suggest that our security can be protected through military means alone is to completely misunderstand the modern world.
Whether we are…