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The Prime Minister is misleading the country on defence and security – A rebuttal of a Downing Street ‘reprimand’.

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On 29 November a Message to Mrs Theresa May, Prime Minister, was published on Briefings for Brexit and elsewhere. In its severity and in the eminence and range of its signatories from the worlds of Intelligence, Defence, Business, Finance, the Law, by a former Chancellor of the Exchequer and by a First Minister of Northern Ireland and Nobel Prize winner, it was unprecedented since May 1940 and the calls for a clear understanding of the nature of this country’s enemy and an end to Lord Halifax’s wishful thinking.

No 10 Downing St instantly replied to the letter. In an equally unprecedented move, the Communications Dept ‘bloggers’ of No 10 singled out former Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service Sir Richard Dearlove and Falklands War Commander Major-General Julian Thompson for reprimand. (click link below). This is the first time ever that No 10, presumably with the approval of at least the Cabinet Secretary, has seen fit to criticise a former ‘C’ in this way. Plainly they had touched a raw nerve.

However, the No 10 reprimand revealed a worryingly poor understanding of the issues and therefore Sir Richard and General Julian have issued a detailed rebuttal of No 10, point by point, which is published here.

Response to coverage of a Richard Dearlove letter in The Sun

Posted by:Number 10 Communications, Posted on:29 November 2018 – Categories:Uncategorized

Our response to several claims made by ex-MI6 chief Sir Richard Dearlove and Falklands War vet Maj Gen Julian Thompson, published in The Sun – 29 November 2018.

Claim

The ‘deal’ surrenders British national security by subordinating UK defence forces to Military EU control.

No 10 Response

“This is just simply wrong. The deal provides a flexible framework for us to work with the EU on foreign policy and defence, including in times of crisis. It gives us an option to cooperate in these areas. It does not create an obligation to do so.”

Rebuttal

On the contrary, the No 10 response is simply wrong, in detail, and on two major counts. Disturbingly, it reveals either complete failure to understand or failure to communicate frankly either the legally prescribed general principle of EU association or the relevant nexus of Military EU documents.

As the last two years have shown to the people, the general principle of all EU ‘negotiation’ is that ‘flexible partnership’ is not on offer: only subordination to the inflexible acquis communautaire. The nexus of defence documents shows that if the UK participates in EU defence frameworks in the way Government is proposing, inescapeably, it imposes strict and published EU participation criteria, known as ‘3rd country associated status’. The ‘deal’ opens the door to those far more onerous requirements. Officials have been caught acknowledging in private that the Government has known about (and understood) these strict EU participation criteria since Theresa May authorised joining the Military EU defence frameworks over five EU Councils between November 2016 and June 2017. Since the Government has not shared the relevant facts with the public, but suggests error on our part, we do so now.

These participation criteria include adherence to the full scope of EU defence policy, CSDP (EU Defence policy), plus ‘administrative agreements’ meaning structural engagement as a rule-taker on intelligence, space, financial contributions and the European Defence Agency.  Finally understanding this, Sam Gyimah MP has resigned as a Minister, prompted by his engagement with the Galileo satellite programme. It is a circumstance of which Sir Richard Dearlove has been warning since May 2018.

Jorge Domecq, CEO of the European Defence Agency, explained that acceptance of the rule of CSDP was an unavoidable prerequisite for even ad-hoc UK participation in the EU’s defence projects which are part of Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), which the Political Declaration specifically requests. The EDA’s Dirk Tielburger confirmed that there would be ‘no flexibility’ in the participation rules for the UK if it hoped to take part in the European Defence Fund. The MOD’s head of science and technology Dr Bryan Wells said in early 2017 that the UK would require a proximity to EU rules and structures which ‘resembled that of Norway’ if the UK were to stay involved in EU Defence Fund projects, which his department was encouraging UK defence industry to do.

Norway abides by participation criteria for the EU Defence Fund by applying CSDP via association agreements, plus applying the EU Defence Procurement Directives in addition to requirements under the EEA agreement, as well as ‘administrative agreements’ – which mean structural subordination – on intelligence, space and the European Defence Agency. Lastly, it participates in the EU Battlegroups and makes payments to EU Defence via a change in the EEA agreement.

Norway’s predicament is similar to the UK’s now in that the people voted clearly not to join the EU as the Norwegian elite had wished. They therefore engineered de facto membership but as a rule-taker only, by administrative means. So although Norway is not formally a member of CSDP as an EU member state, it might as well be and applies CSDP fully as a condition of its participation in the EU defence architecture, as the UK would have to do also. Norway’s application of CSDP means that it agrees to be a ruletaker in defence wherever its actions are conducted as a part of the CSDP architecture.

Therefore, knowing the Norwegian example, the UK Government has consistently said that the UK aim was for a relationship ‘even closer than any other 3rd country’ ie even more restrictive than Norway’s. On 29 November 2018, Government called for ‘the broadest and most comprehensive security relationship the EU has ever had with another country’.

The Cabinet Office official Alastair Brockbank speaking ‘off the record’ to EU diplomats in February 2018 admitted on the “Kit Kat Tapes” that the UK Government seeks ‘no gap’ in its application of obligations under Title 5 Chapter 2 of the TEU, that is Common Foreign and Security Policy, after the UK has left the EU. He referred specifically to a set of defence agreements for this purpose which would be concluded as early as possible during a transition phase.

Paul Johnston, a British diplomat in Brussels and the UK’s representative on the Political and Security Committee, said the EU had reminded the UK of the rules required for Theresa May’s ‘Deep and Special Partnership’. Of UK Government messaging to the public, he said, “We’ve deliberately been more descriptive than prescriptive. What we hear from the other side is sometimes rather – sort of – technical, legalistic: ‘Well you don’t understand about third country relationships’.”

Well we do understand, and the people have a right to know, as explained throughout this dissection of the No 10 responses to our Message to the Prime Minister.

The idea that the Government will be able to create a ‘flexible framework’ is contradicted by the principles of EU defence autonomy.

The clear, binding and published obligation to submit to CSDP alignment is glossed over in Government messaging. The latest Cabinet Office publication on the subject merely says that, ‘further consideration will be given as to whether and how we might contribute to EU activities in the future.’ This is at best disingenuous because it is not an option. Under the Withdrawal Agreement, the UK can be only a rule-taker in defence and security.

An exchange between the Government of Cyprus and the EU Commission in November 2018 shed light on the UK’s proposed status under CSDP. Cyprus knew that the UK was seeking involvement in the European Defence Fund and would therefore have a CSDP requirement. The Cypriot Government knew that the UK Government had been proposing close dialogue, joint policy development and ‘secondees’. Cyprus sought confirmation from the EU Commission that the proposed UK involvement in CSDP did not permit a decision-making role. They were asking the question out of concern that any future involvement of Turkey might permit decision-making. The EU Commission wrote to Cyprus reassuring that UK involvement would not involve decision-making. The UK would be involved solely as a rule-taker.

Most serious of all, it is important to remind the people that, while knowing the truth, their Government has, for more than one year, refused to confirm that the UK would be subject to a structural and institutional relationship with the EU on the sharing of intelligence. However, the Government’s paper on security produced by Cabinet Office on 28 November 2018 finally confirms that this structural, institutional relationship would in fact be created. American and Five Eyes allies are quite clear that a structural relationship with the EU in the intelligence area will harm our key alliance, contrary to No 10’s assertion otherwise.

No 10 Response

“The UK is leaving the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy, the European Defence Agency and all other EU defence structures. There will be no subordination. We will retain full sovereign control of our armed forces, and will decide when and where we wish to cooperate.”

Rebuttal

This is complete and dangerous nonsense. The Prime Minister’s insistence on UK involvement in the EU’s defence programmes stated throughout the exit agreements, plus FOUR separate Government policy papers before them (Partnership Paper Sept 2017, Munich Speech February 2018, Technical Note May 2018, Chequers Plan July 2018), mean that the Government is putting the country into a position where EU participation criteria are inescapable. On the European Defence Agency, Government has said it wants a ‘cooperative accord’ placing the UK into EDA programmes and initiatives. This is ONLY possible with adherence to EDA rules, funding and the application of EDA benchmarks, plus adoption of EU defence procurement directives.

Even the EU Commission-funded Royal United Services Institute said that although Government’s security paper (28 November 2018), ‘keeps options open’, the UK ‘will have to decide how much sovereignty it is prepared to give up’. This is a clear contradiction of the Government’s claims above and a sober recognition that participation in EU frameworks would be on EU terms.

A further contradiction of the Government’s claim that it is creating a ‘flexible framework’ with ‘no subordination’ exists in the Government’s own papers where there is considerable confusion but a consistent subordination to EU frameworks and rules, both actual and implied. First, the Chequers Plan of July 2018 placed the UK fully under the EU Commission’s EDTIB (European Defence Technological and Industrial Base) with all accompanying subordination to EU rules, policies, structures and budgets. Then, the Political Declaration created an apparent U-turn on this giveaway by saying the two parties ‘preserve their respective strategic autonomy and freedom of action underpinned by their respective robust domestic defence industrial bases’. However, this Political Declaration still placed the UK in the central facets of the EDTIB, namely the EU Defence Fund and EU Defence Procurement Directive. Therefore it is natural that the EU would still expect the UK to abide by the rules of EDTIB. Lastly, the Cabinet Office’s ‘EU Exit’ papers of 29 November lapse back into EU Commission-style talk of a single European defence industry. ‘Collaboration on cutting-edge defence research and development will continue, helping to ensure armed forces remain capable and the European defence industry remains world-leading.’

In fact the Withdrawal Agreement will disadvantage UK defence industries and the UK Government as Europe’s largest purchaser of defence equipment in contrast to the alternative offered by the WTO. If we leave without a negotiated agreement, WTO will grant the UK entry to the Government Purchasing Agreement exemption for defence equipments which will give both global free trade and greater certainty to the UK defence sector. The Dept for International Trade seems to  understand and to welcome this. The Cabinet Office seeks to impose ‘the deal’ which will prevent it. No 10’s stated position is therefore the opposite of the truth.

No 10 Response

“The deal will enable us to work alongside the EU to tackle the most pressing global challenges, and, for the UK, NATO will remain the cornerstone of European defence.”

Rebuttal

The No 10 response is internally contradictory. In fact, the EU has developed new frameworks and programmes which have the potential to duplicate and detract from NATO in 20 separate areas from science and technology to logistics, airlift and eventually emergency chain of command. President Macron’s Verdun interview in particular, and Mrs Merkel’s European Parliament speech, make plain that Military EU is intended as a rival to US power and therefore to NATO.

Claim

 The deal compromises UK intelligence capabilities.

No 10 Response

“It absolutely does not. The deal provides for exchange of intelligence between the UK and the EU to support our shared assessments of the threats facing Europe. The deal is clear that any intelligence sharing by the UK is entirely voluntary, and it includes a commitment that our national security will remain the sole responsibility of the UK.

The Five Eyes and bilateral intelligence relationships are vital for our national and international security and will remain the principle means of intelligence cooperation.”

Rebuttal

If only this were true. But absolutely it is not. Any institutional, structural relationship with the EU on the sharing of intelligence brings the risk of dislocation within Five Eyes and therefore an inevitable threat to British national security. Here is further detail to that given above.

The Technical Note on Exchange and Protection of Classified Information of 25 May starkly displays the danger, revealing that, on its misguided misunderstanding of what it implies, the Government places intelligence exchange at the core of its offer to “build a new, deep and special partnership with the EU…fundamental to cooperation across the future partnership” (Cls 1-2). Affirming this, the Government’s paper of 28 November 2018 states that “the UK and the EU have ‘agreed to conclude an agreement.’ Although agreements on classified information exist between the EU and non-associated 3rd counties such as Canada and the United States, the UK’s intention of remaining in the EU’s defence industrial structures and associated policies would necessitate a CSDP-based agreement: so the Technical Note’s claim (Clauses 11-12) that Canada and the USA are equivalent precedents on which the UK can build “but potentially go further” is dangerously false.  The government acknowledges that this relationship would be ‘more than ad hoc’ and governed by the EU’s prescribed Security of Information Agreement for this purpose. The Political Declaration even acknowledges that the UK and EU “should exchange intelligence in support of CSDP missions and operations to which the UK will be contributing”. Any description of this CSDP-linked intelligence obligation must take account of the increased tempo under the CSDP ambit which the UK has permitted via agreements at EU Council since November 2016 and which the Government has committed to stay in as a precondition to participation in the EU’s defence industrial landscape and frameworks. The Political Declaration states that the intelligence exchange “should contribute to a shared understanding of Europe’s security environment”. The Political Declaration indicates UK interest in the EU Satellite Centre and space projects all of which are components of the EU’s military construct and CSDP.

Given that, unlike Canada or the USA, the UK will be compelled by the exit deals to apply the EU’s CSDP, the EU Global Strategy (the EU’s flagship document that was agreed by the UK at EU Council since the UK’s referendum instruction to leave the EU) will rule. This document calls for a hub-and-spoke intelligence arrangement between the EEAS, EU INTCEN and the intelligence capabilities of the CSDP states.

Although the Government’s 28 November Security paper indicates the potential for non-classified information to be shared on an ad hoc basis, it is silent about the sharing of classified information. That is not because such sharing is not at issue. Rather, it conceals the expectations of the EU institutions with respect to the growing and gathering intelligence environment of the CSDP participant states.

These are structural, not ad hoc relationships. So they threaten the Five Eyes Intelligence Alliance that is the bedrock of western security. The Government has to choose between the anglosphere and wider world and structural subordination to Military EU. It has chosen Military EU which is absolutely the wrong choice. It is therefore an inescapeable fact that the Withdrawal documents pose a real and present threat to UK national security.

Claim

The only way to leave the EU is on World Trade Organisation terms.

No 10 Response

“This is utter nonsense. A number of countries who are clearly not in the EU trade on better than WTO terms. For example, countries like Japan and South Korea have Free Trade Agreements with the EU, countries like Norway and Iceland trade within the EEA, and Turkey is in a customs union with the EU.

Rebuttal

Utter nonsense? No 10 protests too much. In the first place, No 10 misquotes the Message to Mrs May. We were careful to state that “To leave on WTO terms is now the only viable way to leave the EU and we urge British people to ignore the hysterical demonization of this course of action by the current Project Fear “

A minimally competent negotiation over the last two years should have hammered out a free trade agreement but did not do so. Therefore leaving on 29 March 2019 without a negotiated agreement is now the only way to obey the people’s instruction to leave the EU. The UK Government passed up the opportunity to obtain a free trade deal with the EU by spending months messing around with the concept of a joint rulebook and common customs areas, being ambushed and bogged down by the entirely artificial Irish border issue and ceding the £39bn ransom without conditions.

A further reason why it is not “utter nonsense” – but the truth  – is that the only remaining option is the one seen between the United States and the EU: trade based on autonomous decision-making and World Trade Organisation terms. What Australians call “World Trade rules”

No 10 response

“The Prime Minister’s deal is what’s in the national interests of the UK – it takes back control of our borders, money and laws while protecting jobs, security and the integrity of the UK”.

Rebuttal

It does none of these. The way this deal and set of promises and future agreements has been composed is actively in conflict with the UK’s interests across the board because it not only puts power in the EU’s hands but all future leverage potential also. In defence, foreign policy and intelligence, the EU finds itself given an unconditional de facto pledge preemptively by Mrs May to continue as a rule-taker only with a level of UK commitment which resembles the current relationship but without membership. The Technical Note of 24 May (Clause 25) states that a defence treaty containing the administrative agreements, intelligence deal and association agreements will be signed as early as possible in the transition as an international treaty under prerogative powers provided the EU believes that deal adequately commits the UK to the EU defence rulebook. Mrs May has surrendered all leverage.

The UK has described those schemes as ‘benefits’ despite them amounting to subordination, centralisation, control and rolling integration at the political decision-making level. This is Orwellian language: they are precisely the opposite.  We repeat, there can be no ‘flexibility’: it is impossible for the UK to cherry pick for to do so would permit EU member states (or Turkey, as Cyprus established) the right to do so.

So the EU will use the defence industrial cooperation that Mrs May so avidly and unnecessarily seeks as a lever to coerce the UK via instruments which are not yet fully in motion and which have scope to grow beyond recognition. The wider industrial and trade relationship can now be brought into the picture by the EU to force the hand of the UK to submit to incrementally increased levels of policy transfer in all other areas since everything is linked to everything else.

And ironically, there is absolutely no commercial or industrial gain for the UK from being in these structures since the WTO offers superior terms without need for negotiation or ransom.

A hitherto concealed danger in the toxic Irish Backstop trap into which Mrs May voluntarily stepped and from which she is so desperate to escape is relevant to the threat to national security. Just as the EU will be empowered to demand concessions to escape from the ‘transitional period’ customs union once the UK has ceded sovereign power to do so to EU institutions, and will do so – Macron has already spoken of access to our fishing grounds as his price – so the EU could demand yet deeper access to our defence and security assets as the price of release from the ‘backstop.’ Recall that Mrs May has already pre-emptively surrendered leverage from the UK’s defence and security assets as well as from the ransom payment and over independent escape from the transtion period.

Government needs to understand that it will not win this fight now that it is in the open. Transferring defence sovereignty and compromising the crown jewels in our Intelligence relationships is a bridge far too far in the Cabinet Office’s stealthy efforts to lock the country into perpetual alignment with the EU.

No 10 response

“It provides for an ambitious economic relationship, better than that which the EU has with any other country, preserving links in areas where the UK economy depends on just-in-time supply chains and thereby protecting jobs. But it also provides for important regulatory autonomy and flexibility for the UK service sector, while at the same time establishing ambitious arrangements for services and investment, that go well beyond what we would have under WTO terms.

Rebuttal

Repeating something endlessly does not make it true. Less than 50% of our export economy is linked to the EU, with which we run a £95 billion annual trade deficit.  Only 10% of UK businesses actually trade with the EU.  Most of the British economy has nothing to do with the EU and the people will not sell themselves into a colonial vassalage for the convenience of the 8% of the economy represented by ‘just-in-time’ manufacturers. As we stated in the Message: “Mrs May has completely failed to understand that this vote was on an issue of principle: sovereignty.”  The people are even less open to a transactional offer now than when Project Fear tried and failed to bribe them in 2016.

No 10 Response

“We should be clear – leaving and trading on WTO terms would mean leaving the EU with no deal.

Rebuttal

Of course we are clear. World Trade Rules are to be welcomed, and there is nothing to fear in this. As we stated in the Message to the Prime Minister “No risks are greater than Mrs May’s terms of surrender”. The only thing to fear is fear itself – deliberately stoked by Project Fear.

No 10 Response

“The Government’s analysis shows that the spectrum of outcomes for the future UK-EU relationship would deliver significantly higher economic output than that scenario. Every sector, nation and region would be better off with this deal than in a no deal scenario.”

Rebuttal

Given the track record of such ‘analysis’, including from Carney’s politicised and disgraced Bank of England, it is not worth the paper it is written on and should be ignored.

No 10 Response

“This deal also provides the broadest and most comprehensive security relationship the EU has with any third country – so it will help to keep our people safe”

Rebuttal

As demonstrated above, this is is the very opposite of the truth

No 10 Response

“- and a time-limited implementation period

Rebuttal

As Martin Howe QC established in his demolition of a previous No 10 attempt to reprimand him, which back-fired, he has shown on the facts that it is not true that the UK will have sovereign power to escape: so it is not time-limited.

No 10 Response

“to ensure a smooth transition into a new partnership which, crucially, avoids the cliff edge that leaving the EU without a deal would create.”

“cliff edge,” crashing out” – all Project Fear Mk 3 language trying to demonise leaving on WTO terms, language against which we warned in the Message to Mrs May. It should be ignored for what it is

Claim

No £39 billion ransom should be paid.

No 10 Response

“This is a negotiated financial settlement that is a fair settlement of our obligations as a departing member of the EU. The National Audit Office also concluded that this was a reasonable estimate. And it is much lower than other estimates we’ve seen, such as £100bn”

Rebuttal

It is well established that the UK has no legal obligation to pay anything, especially not for nothing. It is therefore correctly named as a ransom and ransoms should not be paid.

About the author

Sir Richard Dearlove

About the author

Major-General Julian Thompson