Back in 2014 then Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the idea of an EU military was a “dangerous fantasy”.
So how is it that David Cameron has announced the involvement of a Royal Navy warship in Op Sophia, a mission under the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy?
Number Ten announced it would seek UN approval to deploy a Navy vessel to turn back boats carrying both migrants and weapons heading from the EU as the summer season for people trafficking commences.
This border assistance is part of an EU Border Assistance Mission in Libya called Operation Sophia which was given the green light back in May 2013 with an annual budget of around €26 million.
Downing Street has decided the UK will get involved because it says there is now a risk that Islamic State terrorists are using the migrant route to enter the UK.
Well done, Mr Cameron: you’re only a year behind the rest of us. I’ve been reporting – along with Breitbart London – that ISIS have been using the naive bleeding heart open door policies of Brussels to enter the continent for many, many months. We even know they are active in the camps in Calais and Dunkirk because French Authorities informed us all about it. Where was Mr Cameron and his team when all this was being said?
The two options include sending training ships for the Libyan coastguard and sending ships with armed Royal Marine Commandos to intercept vessels.
Earlier this year as part of my position in the EU’s Security and Defence Committee, I briefed by Lieutenant General Wolfgang Wosolsobe, Director General of the EU Military Staff. He told MEPs “The EU military operation against traffickers is about to enter its next phase,” adding he would be seeking a UN mandate for “his forces” to intervene in Libyan territorial waters.”
“Any move to put naval assets in Libyan waters, or ‘boots on the ground’ would require UN authorisation, especially as there is no unified government in Libya to authorise action of this type.”
In April I called on foreign secretary Philip Hammond, a passionate supporter of Britain remaining in the EU to rule out British troop involvement in the ‘boots on the ground’ third stage of the operation. This followed MPs on a trip to North Africa being told that 1,000 British troops were to be deployed as part of a 6,000 strong international force against Da’esh.
I have heard from senior members of the EU’s military teams including the EU Border Assistance Mission in Libya (EUBAM) about their strategy for dealing with terrorism and trafficking, of which the third stage is ‘boots on the ground’.
Back in February leaked documents revealed the EU’s plan to expand ‘Operation Sophia’ in order to move ‘EU military assets’ into Libyan waters – stage 2 of their strategy.
It has been widely known from internal EU briefings that we have been at stage one of these proposals and that stages two and three were established but not yet approved.
Now with Mr Cameron’s announcements, that has changed. Stage two is approved and the UK is part of it.
Senior defence sources have told me that the while NATO’s high command has ‘little stomach’ for further western intervention in Libya, the EU high command is ‘pushing the issue of intervention in Libya forward’.
For me this highlights how the European Commission has ulterior motives and would use its involvement in this complex, protracted and multifaceted conflict to bolster its push for the creation of a combined EU army, which we know some European Parliament groups wish to see in place by 2025.
The fact is that any ground forces deployed in Libya could quickly find themselves fighting multiple enemies, on multiple fronts. We have already seen what a mess Western leaders made in Libyan through their intervention to topple Gaddafi with President Obama admitting it was his worst mistake.
Both the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Defence, who are wholeheartedly against Brexit and would dearly love to keep this kind of information away from the British public, need to come clean.