Veterans Group: Govt Plotting ‘Below the Radar’ Deal Keeping UK Military Tied to EU After Brexit

army
Christopher Furlong/Getty

Former British military officers have warned a new draft Brexit deal means control of UK armed forces could be given over to the European Union (EU) after Brexit.

A new Draft Exit Agreement, announced this week, demands the UK remain committed to the EU’s new “defence architecture” during the ‘transition period’.

As the bloc moves to rapidly expand its coordinated defence capabilities, the draft deal also keeps open the possibility that the UK could be “bounced” into new defence arrangements during the two-year transition, the pro-Brexit group Veterans for Britain (VfB) explained.

Lt. General Jonathon Riley, an ex-Nato deputy commander and a former commander of UK forces in Bosnia and Iraq, said: “The exit agreement shows that the Cabinet Office does not intend to regain the defence autonomy it gave away on paper in 2017.”

He added: “It’s not wise to stand still in setting concrete and that’s what this transition agreement amounts to in terms of defence.”

Former UKIP leader and MEP Nigel Farage commended VfB’s interpretation of the draft agreement’s phrasing, remarking on social media: “People need to know about this. Spread the word.”

VfB said in a statement: “As a result of a below-radar deal reached 15 months ago, the UK will now be transitioning via a third country arrangement, that provides a u-bend route for the UK to come back fully under EU authority in the future.

“Political commentators in academia and the media are largely yet to grasp the small print of what is really going on. By that time, it will of course be too late.”

The draft agreement, announced this week by Brexit minister David Davis and the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, says the UK shall continue to “contribute to the financing” of many defence and foreign policy structures until the end of 2020.

This includes “the European Defence Agency, the European Union Institute for Security Studies, and the European Union Satellite Centre, as well as to the costs of Common Security and Defence Policy operations”.

Furthermore, the EU and UK can “reach an agreement governing their future relationship” in the area of defence, and it can become “applicable during the transition period”, the draft agreement adds.

VfB added: “The revelations even mentioned EU officials being given a permanent status within [Ministry of Defence] and Foreign Office.

“The UK would be committed to EU rules, policies and structures in everything from space to defence research, foreign policy and the development of its own military equipment.”

.