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Brexit Britain, the high seas and low farce

Boris Johnson mulls sending a naval squadron to square off against China. A potential act of breathtaking—and dangerous—stupidity

By Anatol Lieven  

Photo: Neil Watkin / Alamy Stock Photo

The Johnson government’s planned dispatch later this year of an aircraft carrier group to the Indian and Pacific Oceans and—potentially—to confront China in the South China Sea, is a tragicomedy in an almost literal sense. Underneath January’s trumpeting about the achievement of initial operating capability by Britain’s largest ever warship, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, were audible whispers that its first deployment would likely take it through the South China Sea.

The tragic aspect is stark. Such a move would simultaneously carry dire implications for British domestic security, the British economy, and Britain’s place in the world. The folly…

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