Now that Britain's Exit (Brexit) from the European Union (EU) referendum vote count has ended (52% Leave and 48% Remain) there are many downside implications and perhaps alarmist expectations:
While there is an initial shock to defence analysts, foreign policy establishments and markets the forces and feelings of continuity should prove stronger.
- Prime Minister David Cameron resigned today but will actually leave office in October 2016.
As Cameron was a major supporter of Trident the Trident supporters in the UK Parliament and
government may lose ground.
- there are claims the Trident decision will be made in the UK House of Commons before the UK
Parliament rises on July 21, 2016
- but I think it most likely in the confusion and acrimony of Brexit Leave the Trident decision will be
pushed down the scale of priorities from the expected 2016 "Main Gate" decision point, to 2017 or
The resurgence of (mainly Remain in EU) Scottish-separate-from-Britain feeling may cause a future shutdown of Britain's current SSBN Base at Faslane (HMNB Clyde).
Forces of Continuity
Britain is still in NATO which provides continuity in Britain's defence relations with almost all countries of Europe, the US and Canada.
- Britain's planning and mandate to fight Islamic State (in Iraq and Syria) has much to do with
the NATO Summit in Wales September 2014 and at NATO HQ, Brussels in December 2014
Britain is still in the intelligence sharing UKUSA "Five Eyes" structure
I initially though Britain would need to break ties with the EU agency known as the European Defence Agency (EDA). But there is provision for non-EU members enabling them to participate in EDA’s projects and programmes without exercising voting rights.
- the EDA handles an expanding range of roles including: crisis management, weapons research, production and purchasing cooperation
Non-members of the EU can still participate in the internal market
- see this subsequent article.
Some continuity exists due to the length of time to exit from the EU. This would likely be a minimum of 2 years (under Article 50) - perhaps starting now (depending on what the UK Parliament and Cameron decide)
- The defence views or non-views of Boris Johnson's (now a ruling Conservative Party MP) may be
pivotal. He is widely considered a replacement Prime Minister (replacing Cameron)
- Britain may be hungrier to sell (drop arms prices) outside the EU defence. Australia is a long term customer for British defence products, especially naval vessels.
- Australia's Future Frigates CEP is considering choosing from a shortlist of three sellers.
One is Britain's BAE Systems (Type 26 Frigate). The other competitors are remaining EU
Members: Italy's Fincantieri (FREMM Frigate) and Spain's Navantia (redesigned F100 Frigate)
- this may be in the context of heightened trade across the board between Britain and Australia.