This is the transcript of Lecture at the Heritage Foundation, “Brexit and the US-UK Defense Relationship” given by Professor Gwythian Prins on 1 May 2019. A summary is on the Briefings for Brexit blog page.
Ted, colleagues at Heritage, distinguished ladies and gentlemen. I am honoured and grateful for the hospitality of your platform this afternoon so that I can share with you some insights into the least well discussed and yet in many ways the most dangerous aspect of the strategies by which Mrs May and her close advisers have failed to execute the instruction that I and 17.4 million fellow citizens gave to our government in June 2016 to leave the fast collapsing European Union.
These relate to national security and hence – inevitably and indissolubly – to the special relationship between this country and mine, which lies at the heart of the anglosphere alliances, notably the Five Eyes intelligence alliance. So the systematic compromising of UK national security hidden within the so-called withdrawal agreement (for it is in practical effect the Orwellian opposite – an instrument that would keep the UK under EU control as a powerless supplicant and rule taker), is a real and present danger to US national security also.
Ladies and gentlemen, our story is your story. Our enemies are, by and large, your enemies too. And as before in times of roiling European crisis, we urgently need your help.
We are indeed living in interesting times in the United Kingdom, in just the dual sense of which the Chinese sage warned. We have learned in an unprecedented leak that last week, on 23 April, the British National Security Council considered whether or not to allow Huawei, the Chinese telecom company which, Mr Jeremy Hunt our Foreign Secretary has reminded us, has a legal duty to co-operate with the Chinese state intelligence services, into the development of the British 5G network. It is reported that in the NSC the Secretaries of State for Defence, Foreign and Home affairs, International Trade and International Development all opposed such involvement. That, of course, is the settled view of this country and of Australia too. Yet against the advice of the majority of her ministers, the Prime Minister Mrs May is apparently minded to allow it.
It is not the first time that she has acted thus – being guided by a tiny cell of advisors and ignoring wider advice, including the rejection of her Withdrawal Agreement draft in the House of Commons three times so far, and by historic majorities; and it is one of the reasons for the effective collapse of Cabinet discipline and secrecy in Mrs May’s profoundly dysfunctional government.
The Chairman of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee observed of this leaked information that “this is not simply a technical issue but a diplomatic one, undermining the trust that has built the 70 year relationship we know as the Five Eyes community which keeps threats away from our shores and ensures the security of our citizens around the world.”
Sir Richard Dearlove, the former Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (and my close colleague in research and warning on the security threats within the May strategy towards the EU, to which I shall shortly turn directly) stated that “This is an appalling decision. There is a risk to Five Eyes: there’s no question about that. There is a security risk: there’s no question about that… The problem is that if the Chinese know so much about our systems it’s not only that they may be able to use trapdoors in crisis. It also makes it much easier to do routine intercepts.”
I begin with the Huawei issue because, really for the first time in a long time, it has surfaced intelligence and security questions into mainstream public discussion; but also because it highlights a systematic difference between the Anglosphere world of Five Eyes – and continental Europe. Governments there, notably Germany, do not see Huawei as a ‘loaded gun’, as Rob Joyce, senior cyber security adviser to the National Security Agency, graphically described it.
So why would serving British officials take the continental rather than the anglosphere view especially when the British people had firmly voted for the open seas over an entangling continental commitment?
Well, it might be for the same reason that in 1519, having landed upon the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, Cortes burned his boats so that his soldiers had no way back to Cuba. In our case, the overwhelming majority of Whitehall and Westminster – of officials and of members of both Houses of Parliament – have not – not for one second – accepted the result of the largest democratic mandate in British history. Instead, assisted by a campaign in the country led by Lords Malloch-Brown and Mandelson, along with former Prime Minister Tony Blair and well-funded by Mr George Soros, they have striven to subvert it by engaging in an entirely unnecessary and mind-bogglingly complicated negotiation about a ‘deal’ that will deliver a ‘Hotel California’ Brexit In Name Only (You recall the Eagles’ lyric, I expect? “You can check out any time you like. But you can never leave!”).
The more principled Remainiac MPs have comforted themselves in so doing with a misreading of Edmund Burke’s Address to the Electors of Bristol where the famous admonition to use their best judgement has been invoked as reason to defy the Referendum instruction, which is not advisory but mandatory as Mr Cameron of blessed memory explained in 2016. So if your crew is mutinous, best burn the boats.
That would certainly be the practical effect, were it to be passed, of the thrice rejected Withdrawal Agreement and its associated Political Declaration if and when Mrs May brings it back to Parliament for a fourth time, which seems to be her only strategy. And public actions distancing the UK from its natural and most loyal allies can be interpreted as tokens of adherence – of supplication even – to the European Project to give Mrs May sufficient concessions to enable her to bulldoze her toxic Withdrawal Agreement through Parliament with the active assistance of the most partisan Speaker since the seventeenth century.
Sir Richard and I with others, including my military colleagues in Veterans for Britain, certainly see the surrenders of UK sovereign control over the prime function of the state, which is the defence of the realm, in this way. Nor are these mere opinions but issues of documented fact as I will rehearse.
I mentioned that Mrs May relies on a tiny cell of advisers – the May Cell – over all other constitutionally emplaced bodies, such as her Cabinet. It was brutally subverted when the so-called Chequers plan was imposed on it on 6 July 2018. That caused the resignation of Boris Johnson from the Foreign Office and Ministers from the Dept for Exiting the EU who had been blind- sided, and all to no avail because the EU rejected her plan that September anyway. We need to give names to this powerful cell.
There is the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff or in-house fixer, a failed MP called Gavin Barwell; her National Security Adviser and simultaneously Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill; her Europe adviser Oliver Robbins and his defence adviser Alastair Brockbank; her political secretary Stephen Parkinson; and her husband Philip. Then there are two important civil servants, both with experience in senior EU-facing or serving posts: Angus Lapsley, a diplomat who has found a considerable role in Defence and Dr Bryan Wells, Director of Science and Technology at the Ministry of Defence.
Several of them have been with her for a long time, personally in her husband’s case or professionally in her previous post at the Home Office where she was a long serving minister. Finally there are two key Remainiac ministers: Philip Hammond the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has blocked key ‘no deal’ preparations and junior Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan who on 19th November 2018 helped the EU lock in eight major power-grabs for Military EU five days after Mrs May has announced agreement with the EU to her Carthaginian ‘Withdrawal Agreement’.
Lapsley is on record in 2016 when he was UK Ambassador to the EU Political & Security Committee telling his fellow Ambassadors that he didn’t understand why his country had voted to leave the EU (ich verstehe nicht). Bizarrely, he declared in the same remarks that EU foreign policy has always been “relatively popular” in the UK and that “we rather like the security strategy. We rather like the Global Strategy… we were part of the member states who helped shape it. We think it’s a good strategy.” The ‘we’ is clearly first person singular. Lapsley has ‘tweeted’ that the EU “Commission [is] needed if we are to respond to modern threats in Europe.”. Wells worked for the European Defence Agency and has repeatedly encouraged UK defence companies to engage in the drive towards EU Defence Union. So both men show the signs of strong EU institutional capture.
The EU has harboured an ambition to create a defence union independent of the US since its very inception. Logically so. A true federal union requires the key attributes of sovereign power: armed forces, a currency, a judiciary, a parliament. But the Pleven Plan of 1950 failed as did the Defence Community in 1954, which British Foreign Secretary Sir Anthony Eden guided into the face-saving Western European Union (for which he got no thanks). However, as soon as the UK voted to leave the EU, the Commission initiated the rapid take-off of a flying Defence EU. Federica Mogherini, the ersatz Union Foreign Minister, has correctly said that more has been done in this regard since November 2016 than in the previous sixty years.
Two after-burners were lit off that month: the Implementation Plan on Security and Defence (SDIP) on 14th and European Defence Action Plan (EDAP) on 30th November 2016. These two documents tie all emerging EU defence capabilities to the over-riding federal goal of EU ‘ever closer union’ and to the EU’s foreign policy objectives, many of which run contrary to British national interests. The first of the two – SDIP – is part of the foreign policy ‘EU Global Strategy’ that Mr Lapsley likes so much. The other, the
Defence Action Plan, states the EU’s ambitions. The SDIP is the working plan to use EU finances and assets delivered by the EDAP. Worryingly Sir Alan Duncan has stated that the UK “agreed with much of the content” of SDIP. More first person singular under false flag? Or the voice of the May Cell?
Initiatives came thick and fast, and an acronym storm of new agencies and initiatives was waved through half a dozen successive European Councils. The UK objected to none of these. Why should we? We were leaving and it was not our business to obstruct the future plans of the remaining members. In his “State of the Union” speech of 27 September 2017, President Juncker had opined that “By 2025 we need a fully-fledged European Defence Union.” In case the geo-strategic orientation of this project was obscure, in a semiotically freighted interview on local radio on Armistice Day 2019, President Macron clarified it when visiting France’s most memory-laden site, Verdun, birthplace of the dreams of European federal union a century before. Europe, Macron stated, needed organic and independent federal defence to protect it against threats, whether from China, Russia or the US. ‘Go figure’, as you say so economically over here.
In early 2017 in Britain the course ahead for Brexit seemed to be well and safely charted. The Prime Minister’s Lancaster House speech of 17th was refreshingly plain in stating that, “…we do not seek partial membership of the European Union, associate membership of the European Union, or anything that leaves us half-in, half-out….We do not seek to hold on to bits of membership as we leave. No, the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union. And my job is to get the right deal for Britain as we do… I am equally clear” she concluded, “that no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain.” Which is certainly is. It was a correct and good speech. And now it seems so long ago. Mrs May’s policy in 2019 is Lancaster House inverted. Did she believe a word of it then? Who knows.
But what we do know is that in June 2017, after a disastrous campaign which exposed her flaws mercilessly, Mrs May lost her majority in a General Election which should have given a charismatic and wholeheartedly brexiteer conservative leader a comfortable working majority. The strategy towards the EU changed fundamentally and threats to national security suddenly began to appear.
The first crow flapped into sight in September 2017. The Dept for Exiting the EU issued an alarming paper. The “Future Partnership” Paper wished to offer and to obtain what it says on the cover – partnership. This may be goodhearted but it was utterly naïve, betraying ignorance of what the EU is and how it works. Partnership as we might understand it is not on offer from the EU. Participation of any kind is structurally prescribed to be integration, not cooperation. This cannot be stressed too often.
So, thus misguided, the September paper advocated many forms of future structural attachment, notably CSDP (Common Security & Defence Policy) missions and operations under the MPCC (Military Planning and Conduct Capability – an ersatz EU Standing HQ). The September 2017 DExEU paper was also the place where the May Cell’s ambition “to seek to develop a deep and special partnership with the EU that goes beyond existing third party arrangements” was first stated to be later repeated crescendo fortissimo. It proposed to pay into the EU defence pot and to subscribe to
EU rules, structures and agreements. It proposed staying within “European Defence Agency projects and initiatives…European Defence Fund including both the European Defence Research Programme and the European Defence Industrial Development Programme…” What was going on?
That became plain on 15 March 2018. The Sun newspaper published explosive extracts from a secret tape recording of British officials speaking to a group of EU officials. First we hear a British official called Victoria Billing of DExEU chuckle as she describes how British officials go through the motions of making a chocolate coating superficially conforming to the Brexit mandate while actually baking layered biscuit from the sort of integrative agreements listed in the September 2017 paper. Then, on the full tapes which The Sun let me have and which are published on our Briefings for Brexit website as an Annex to my ‘Hotel California’ paper there, we hear Alastair Brockbank from the May Cell making extraordinary statements.
He says that “where we think things should be … and similar to what the EU has put out in their guidelines, is that there should be no gap on CFSP or CSDP (the Common Security and Defence Policy) on exit day.” He regrets our absence from PESCO (the main organ of Defence Union) and says that “we would see what we can contribute towards PESCO still,” as the EU moves it forward. Of the list of acronymic EU defence institutions EDF, EDRP, EDIDP etc, he states that on “the capabilities side, um, we are interested in it all.” He wants to remain in CARD (Co-ordinated Annual Review of Defence), even talked about the UK retaining a seat on the EU negotiating bodies while aware that only a proximity role might be possible and suggests that the EEAS (ersatz Foreign Ministry) should have people inside UK Ministries after Brexit! Like Ms Billing, Mr Brockbank cynically boasts that it is civil servants who “are negotiating the detail of that at the same time as we are discussing the political high-level fluffy bits that will go into any declaration that gets made public:” wool to be pulled over the peoples’ eyes. He states that the ambition is to lock the UK into and under EU control in the defence, security and intelligence areas by international treaty as soon as possible after leaving day. To this day he has never, to my knowledge, been censured or sacked.
The worst was swiftly confirmed. A murder of crows gathered. On 24 May 2018 the Government slipped out a dryly named Technical Note on External Relations. It is said that the devil is in the detail. There is indeed a whole pandemonium in there. In Articles 6 and 14 we find ambitions to share intelligence and analysis. This was confirmed the next day in the Technical Note on Exchange and Protection of Classified Information of 25 May 2018 which shows that the May Cell places intelligence sharing with the EU 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, a Cabinet Office paper on security of 28 November 2018 finally conceded that a structural and institutional relationship will be created. That is really burning the boats on the beach.
It 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” 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 indicates UK interest in the EU Satellite Centre and space projects all of which are components of the EU’s military construct and CSDP as the SDIP agreements of late 2016 made this so. Yet the EU will exclude the UK – Europe’s principle satellite builder – from access to GALILEO’s secure signal, while letting us pay into the project if our government is so stupid – or disloyal.
Given that, unlike Canada or the USA, the UK will be compelled by the exit deals to apply the EU’s CSDP, since everything is attached to everything else, the EU Global Strategy will rule. This document calls for a hub-and- spoke intelligence arrangement between the EEAS (foreign service) , EU INTCEN (Intelligence Centre) and the national intelligence capabilities of the CSDP 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 of the United Kingdom, ladies and gentlemen, has to choose between the anglosphere and the wider world or structural subordination to Military EU. The people have chosen the wider world. The officials and the May Cell have chosen Military EU. This is absolutely the wrong choice. It is therefore an inescapable fact that the Orwellian non- Withdrawal documents pose a real and present threat to UK national security in the most fundamental way possible.
More crows join the murder. In Article 17 of the External Relations ‘Technical Note’ we find ambitions to lock us into subordination with the EU Political and Security Committee and EU Military Committee. Precisely as Brockbank said in the Kit Kat tapes, there, in Article 17 (f), we find the ambition for
‘secondments to the EU Foreign Service’. In 17 (h) (i) ‘UK participation in the EU Operational HQ’. The documents from the 19 November 2018 European Council place remainiac minister Alan Duncan in the room when it was agreed to give the MPCC the authority of an executive HQ with the legal right to command intervention forces by 2020; to formalise CARD (Co- ordinated Annual Review of Defence which allows the EU to exert financial leverage on uses of national defence budgets and to increase funding to the EDF which was agreed at 13 billion Euro last month, on 18 April, which compels compliance with EU strategic control: all with the UK under it.
And yet more crows. Article 18 ‘intends to achieve a bespoke Administrative Arrangement with the European Defence Agency’. It ‘agrees arrangements for participation in the Commission’s European Defence Fund’ (all re- confirmed, and more, in Clause 104 of the Political Declaration) . To have ‘the option to participate in PESCO as a Third Party’ and access to ‘commercial opportunities’. But we have formally stated we will not be in PESCO. Ministers and civil servants clearly do not understand that ‘Third Party’ participation is structurally prescribed as subordination or nothing. Britain did not vote for a ‘deep and special’ degree of subordination more than any other third party country. We have been here before, as John of Gaunt lamented on his death-bed with uncanny precision:
England, bound in with the triumphant sea,
Whose rocky shore beats back the envious siege
Of watery Neptune, is now bound in with shame,
With inky blots and rotten parchment bonds.
That England that was wont to conquer others
Hath made a shameful conquest of itself. [emphasis added]
And then we get to the truly devilish part in Article 25. ‘We should not wait where we do not need to. The UK welcomes the agreement that future arrangements on CSFP and CSDP could become effective during the Implementation Period.’ This is precisely what Brockbank said in the Kit Kat Tapes – and it would effectively mean that any time after ‘leaving’ in chains, the Government could permanently lock us under EU control in Defence and Security by Prerogative Powers. In effect, it would allow for a very English administrative coup d’état. The Political Declaration does this ‘locking in’ on its own.
Ladies and gentlemen. I have deliberately taxed you with acronyms and obscure clauses, with inky blots and rotten parchment bonds, for which I apologise. I did it not to bore you but to scare you with the facts. I did it also to pre-empt any in this room (or elsewhere) who would question the facts behind my warning of the real and present danger to Anglo-American security that the May Cell has deliberately inscribed into its Hotel California strategy to subvert the will of the British people by these most dangerous of games.
Of course we have published at home the analysis I share with you here today. And battle is truly joined. On 29 November 2018, together with two major businessmen, Rocco Forte and Sir Peter Marshall, a former Chancellor of the Exchequer Lord Lawson, Lord Trimble, Nobel prize-winning former First Minister of Northern Ireland and General Julian Thompson Royal Marines who commanded the initial landings leading to the liberation of the Falkland Islands in 1982, Sir Richard Dearlove wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister pointing out her complete failure to understand that the vote to leave the EU was not primarily about trade but about sovereignty; that no risks were greater than the Withdrawal Agreement’s terms of surrender; that the people voted to take back control, not for a colonial status and that she had broken trust with the British people, just as she had lost the trust of so many of her ministers.
The response was immediate, astonishing and, in a perverse way, welcome. No 10 Downing St singled out Sir Richard and General Julian for punishment beating and for the first time in the history of MI6 saw fit to admonish a former ‘C’ in public. We read the rebuttal with relish and proceeded to a full demolition, in terms, just as I have done here. You can find that full document on Briefings for Brexit where we mark the No 10 homework.
Then on 8 January 2019, as Mrs May prepared to present her toxic Withdrawal document to Parliament for the first time, in another unprecedented move, Sir Richard combined with Field Marshal the Lord Guthrie, one of our most illustrious post war Chiefs of the Defence Staff. They wrote to the Chairmen of all Conservative Constituency Associations advising them to cause their MPs to vote down the ‘bad agreement’ which “threatens to change our national security policy by binding us into new sets of EU-controlled relationships.” This elicited a second irascible dressing down from Number Ten on 13th January to which Sir Richard and the Field Marshal replied that “This is the second time within a month that No10 has issued an inaccurate reprimand of this sort”: and once more the facts were rehearsed.
After going down to the largest defeat of the democratic era in the House of Commons, by 230 votes, the May Cell’s response, with connivance of our rogue Speaker, and against all convention of Erskine May (the handbook of Parliamentary protocol), was, like a Terminator just blown up by Mr Schwarzenegger, to get up, dust off and just keep on coming, bringing the same deal back once more.
Accordingly Sir Richard and I wrote to all Conservative and Irish Unionist MPs, and all Chairmen, renewing our warning and advice. But at the same time, with Lord Guthrie, we realised that a positive response was also required.
Therefore the three of us drafted and have published on 6 March the text of a Defence Treaty between the UK and the EU that actually protects the security of the Realm and of our key natural anglosphere alliances. Introducing it to the public we wrote this:
The public is not aware that the Government has embedded a fatal concession within its withdrawal strategy. We three have combined out of a sense of duty to reveal this to the public and MPs alike.
Government is proposing to compromise the crown jewels of our national security in its futile search for a ‘deal’ with the EU. This will compromise our premier intelligence alliance with the ‘Five Eyes’. Those denying this are wrong in fact as we know and our allies agree.
Having successfully prevented the EU from developing a defence role for over forty years, bizarrely, the Government’s Withdrawal Agreement and associated documents threaten to place Europe’s premier defence and intelligence power under EU control. This is the reverse of what the people voted for in June 2016 and is a constitutional outrage. This fact is also concealed. We join up the dots.
The Government proposes an early Defence Treaty after we leave the EU, but the terms are in our view unacceptable. Therefore we have drafted a safe and protective treaty which will be published on ‘Briefings for Brexit.’
Rightly it is said that the darkest hour comes often just before the dawn. It has been my unfortunate duty but great privilege to warn you here today
that US security will not be immune from damage if we fail in our battle for Britain, to defeat the strategy of the May Cell and to secure a government that will faithfully and cleanly execute the expressed will of the people.
Rightly it is also said that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Where better then to sound a fire bell in the night than here, under the auspices of the Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom? I am grateful for your patience and attention; and now we seek, by all the means that this distinguished American audience can muster, your active support in the struggle to protect and to nourish both our bedrock Anglo-American security alliance and the freedom for which the British people – in great part her people, re- mobilised by a chance to cast a vote that really count – voted in unprecedented numbers in Margaret Thatcher’s land, thereby expressing what Edmund Burke once described with beautiful simplicity as “the wisdom of unlettered men”.
Author: Gwythian Prins
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