Far from making Europe safer, the European Union is highly likely to provoke a war thanks to its antidemocratic nature, and foolhardy foreign and defence policies, the chairman of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee has warned.
Conservative MP Julian Lewis, chairman of the House of Commons Defence Committee described has described recent attempts to link the European Union to peace and security as having “a wearily familiar ring.”
The remarks follow interventions by two former heads of the British security forces MI5 and MI6 after they took to the Sunday Times this weekend to warn against Britain leaving the EU. They arguing in favour of the Union both on intelligence sharing grounds and on a wider geopolitical basis, repeating the trope that the EU has delivered peace to Europe.
“For all its faults and petty irritations the EU has helped to establish peaceful co-operation, respect for human rights and the rule of law as the normal way for Europe to conduct its affairs,” they insisted, adding: “If the UK were to withdraw from the EU the destabilising effect on the EU itself — already beset with economic difficulties, the migration crisis and a resurgent Russia — could be profound. Those who are enemies of democracy would rejoice.”
Writing in a personal capacity an article which has appeared in abridged form in The Telegraph, Mr Lewis has speculated that Downing Street put the men up to writing the article (an allegation they have denied), commenting: “I had a conversation very recently with one of the two and I was quite impressed by the fact that although he told me he was in favour of remaining in the EU, it would make no difference to our security.
“I am very surprised and rather disappointed to see this article has appeared. I find it rather difficult to believe he has changed his mind in such a short period of time. I can only wonder if there’s some sort of manipulation going on here.”
Mr Lewis, who served for five years on Parliament’s intelligence and security committee goes on to make an impassioned case for leaving the EU on security grounds, arguing that the EU has made more in Europe more likely, not less.
“[T]he reality is that any limited costs and benefits of Brexit in domestic security terms must be seen as secondary to the profound threat to peace in Europe posed by the EU’s fixation on a common foreign and defence policy for all its members, including the United Kingdom,” he wrote.
“By trying to create its own foreign policy and its own military forces – which on typical European levels of defence investment will remain modest indefinitely – the EU risks reverting to the uncertainties of the pre-Nato era.”
European leaders have made little attempt to disguise the fact that they see a unified European military as a counter to the might of an American-led Nato. But, Mr Lewis pointed out, it is exactly America’s military might which makes Nato work.
“With its pretensions to a common foreign and defence policy, the EU seeks to duplicate Nato by recreating it without the deterrent power of the Americans,” he says. “By trying to act as a separate entity on the European stage, the EU resurrects all the old risks of blundering into military confrontations under circumstances where the US may feel free from any obligation to act.
“As part of the EU, the UK can do nothing to prevent this. Furthermore, by importing uncertainty into the situation, the EU raises the spectre, once again, of war by miscalculation.”
But Mr Lewis widens his argument beyond the confines of foreign and defence policy, arguing that the anti-democratic nature of the EU itself lends itself to the provocation of war.
In a speech delivered today, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, hoped to convince the British people that a Brexit would usher in World War Three.
“The serried rows of white headstones in lovingly tended Commonwealth war cemeteries stand as silent testament to the price this country has paid to help restore peace and order in Europe,” the Prime Minister said, adding: “Can we be so sure that peace and stability on our continent are assured beyond any shadow of doubt? Is that a risk worth taking?”
Mr Lewis’s article appears to have been written before the contents of Mr Cameron’s speech was released, but he has anticipated the Prime Minister’s speech pitch perfectly to argue the precise opposite:
“EU leaders urge Brexit supporters to visit the vast military cemeteries in France and Belgium – as if the dead supported their notion of a single European superstate,” Mr Lewis wrote.
“They dishonour the memory of those who fought for the rights of the British people, and of the captive peoples of occupied Europe, to govern themselves within free, constitutional and democratic countries. There is no risk of western European states going to war with each other, as long as they remain free, democratic and constitutional.
“Constitutional democracies do not attack one another. Wars break out between dictatorships and other dictatorships, or between dictatorships and democracies, as in 1939.
“By trying to build a supranational state in the absence of democratic structures or a popular mandate, the EU is sowing the seeds of precisely the sort of conflicts it claims to have abolished.”