European Union loyalists have repeatedly denied EU plans for defence and military integration since 2014.
Nick Clegg, then deputy prime minister and leader of the Liberal Democrats, now ejected from the House of Commons in the 2017 snap election, first dismissed warnings by Brexit supremo Nigel Farage of an EU army as “a dangerous fantasy” during a debate in April 2014.
Today, 23 of the bloc’s member-states signed a pact pledging joint deployments, procurement, and research as part of plans for a Common Defence Fund, which will help smooth the path for the EU Defence Union announced by the president of the European Commission in September 2017.
It is possible that Britain may have to contribute to the scheme, or even be signed up to participate in or “support” the related Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) mechanism.
EU members sign military defence pact – is the prospect of a full-blown EU army still a "dangerous fantasy", Clegg? https://t.co/o3U8I6DejP
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) November 13, 2017
Clegg has not responded to a request for comment to Breitbart London as to whether or not he regrets having appeared to mislead the British public yet again, but many other EU apologists and commentators have repeated Clegg’s dismissal of the threat since 2014.
In April 2015, the then Labour Party leader Ed Miliband assured Farage he would sign Britain up to a European Army, “because there’s not going to be a European army”.
When Farage attempted to press Miliband on the EU’s plans, he was dismissed: “There’s not going to be a European army. I think I’ve said that a number of times.”
— Rɪᴄʜᴀʀᴅ Kᴇᴍᴘ ⋁ (@COLRICHARDKEMP) June 19, 2016
On May 25th, 2016, the BBC Reality Check team asserted that “Article 42 of the Lisbon Treaty states that what it calls ‘a common defence’ would require unanimity in the European Council. In other words, Britain could veto it.”
Apparently, they did not anticipate ruses such as integration of supposedly civilian capabilities, research, procurement and so on could be used as workarounds, or that Britain could be asked to help cover the cost of defence integration schemes it did not participate in directly.
On May 27th, 2016, the Cameron administration also claimed: “We retain a veto on all defence matters in the EU and we will oppose any measures which would undermine member-states’ military forces.”
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) May 4, 2016
On May 27th, 2016 Guardian Brussels correspondent Jennifer Rankin echoed Clegg’s sentiments, writing: “Claims from the Leave side about moves to unify Europe’s armed forces are nothing more than fantasy.”
As late as June 7th, 2016, just days before Britain’s referendum, Centre for European Reform research fellow Sophia Besch assured Politico readers that “Brexit campaigners’ outrage is little more than a storm in a Eurosceptic’s tea cup. There are no imminent plans to create an EU army.”
— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) November 10, 2017