Fears of new ‘EU army’ lead to Whitehall plea from UK military top brass

Portsmouth MP enlists in armed forces scheme

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TOP military leaders have called on the government to ensure the UK steers clear of a new ‘integrated’ European defence force.

Rear Admiral Roger Lane-Nott and Major General Julian Thompson made the plea, saying post-Brexit Britain should play no part in the plans, revealed by EU defence bosses earlier this week.

What the EU would love to do is to lock the UK into that system before it’s too late.

Rear Admiral Roger Lane-Nott

It comes after the pair visited Portsmouth in June, warning the UK could become part of a European ‘army’ if it remained in the EU.

Now they say Whitehall needs to make its voice heard – even after the vote for Brexit – or face being drawn into a costly defence conglomerate.

Rear Adm Lane-Nott, former chief of the submarine fleet, Nato Eastern Atlantic, said: ‘EU amalgamation means being joined at the hip in every sense and only having the appearance of autonomy. What the EU would love to do is to lock the UK into that system before it’s too late. They don’t want to have to negotiate defence cooperation with the UK because it is such an immensely strong hand for us to play during the Brexit negotiations.

‘They don’t want to be bossed by the US on defence and to have to find the capability in the residual EU as they would be making plans for something they can’t afford.’

The plans would see the EU foreign service creating the HQ which will command ‘non-executive military missions’ – overseas, non-combative, training operations.

The 56 foreign and defence ministers agreed the EU needed its own joint forces, saying new battlegroups – battalion-sized forces made by coalitions of member states – could be formed.

But Flick Drummond, Portsmouth South MP, said the UK would never be part of such a battlegroup – which have existed for 10 years but have never seen action.

Speaking to The News, Mrs Drummond said: ‘Sir Michael Fallon (UK defence secretary) has made it perfectly clear that the UK will not support moves to create an EU army.

‘Nato is the cornerstone of our defence policy and it will remain the framework for cooperation across Europe on defence issues.’