Saturday, April 01, 2017

Trade and Defence

I was more than a little baffled when the MSM in Britain started interpreting the Prime Minister's Article 50 letter and the, quote "linkage of trade and security" as an implied threat to withdraw security co-operation if Britain does not get a trade deal.

I went back to the text of the letter to see if it read like that. This is what the relevant section says.

"Negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union

The United Kingdom wants to agree with the European Union a deep and special partnership that takes in both economic and security cooperation. To achieve this, we believe it is necessary to agree the terms of our future partnership alongside those of our withdrawal from the EU.

If, however, we leave the European Union without an agreement the default position is that we would have to trade on World Trade Organisation terms. In security terms a failure to reach agreement would mean our cooperation in the fight against crime and terrorism would be weakened. In this kind of scenario, both the United Kingdom and the European Union would of course cope with the change, but it is not the outcome that either side should seek. We must therefore work hard to avoid that outcome.

It is for these reasons that we want to be able to agree a deep and special partnership, taking in both economic and security cooperation, but it is also because we want to play our part in making sure that Europe remains strong and prosperous and able to lead in the world, projecting its values and defending itself from security threats. And we want the United Kingdom to play its full part in realising that vision for our continent."

The British government has vehemently and specifically denied that this linkage or any other part of the text of the letter was meant to imply a threat to withdraw security co-operation if we do not get a trade deal. Both David Davis and Boris Johnson have quite clearly stated that the British government was saying what a bad thing it would be if there were no agreement, not threatening to stop co-operation in one area if there was a lack of agreement in others.

In Boris Johnson's words at NATO headquarters in Brussels

"We make an unconditional commitment to the defence and security of Europe."

Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, said

"I'm absolutely sure that no one is interested in using security co-operation as a bargaining chip."

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