Brexit And Britain’s Security Concerns

Britain has voted to leave the European Union (EU) and it massively represents a monumental change, a quick fire of economic effects and potential security concerns going forward.

With a majority of 52%, the LEAVE campaign of the Brexit referendum has achieved its objective to commence Britain’s gradual exist from the EU. The two most damaging consequences so far have been the devaluation in market shares of the pound sterling, the worst in over 30 years, and the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron, an ardent pro-EU proponent. He will leave office in October and will not oversee the Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty negotiations with the EU.

Article 50 provides a two (2) year window for Britain to negotiate the circumstances of its exit primarily within the context of trade deals. This is the main issue of the exit as Britain will try to ascertain the best possible deal for goods and services, the core of its economic security and wealth creation.

Britain’s political isolationism doctrine has been indirectly invoked with most EU countries with the vote to leave. That categorically does not incite it will sever communications and cooperation with EU countries, but intricate issues of security cooperation. Data and intelligence sharing will be conducted more independently rather than obligatory.


“We are prepared for this negative scenario” – Statement by Donald TUSK, President of the European Council, on the outcome of the UK referendum.

Initial Security Concerns

Security, especially with the issue of international terrorism, will be a major point of interest. Will Britain be more secure now? Britain’s Security Minister, John Hayes, has argued that Britain will be more secure and protected without the EU’s “free-movers” policy as it regains border controls. Hayes was suggestive that Britain can tackle terrorism effectively through the Five Eyes (FVEY) Intelligence group. He further insinuated that the EU’s delegation of powers with regards to security decentralizes and slows down their ability to act swiftly.

“Trying to build new structures is a distraction and a waste. It is driven by those who see institutions appropriating power, rather than people doing the job in hand”, he said.

This is a profound statement which has some serious elements of truths to it. However, regardless of the expansive network provided by FVEY, data and intel coordination regional EU neighbours will and could provide hiccups for threats relaying through and emerging from the European continent. Former Head of MI6, Richard Dearlove, implied that security consequences would be ‘low’ as Britain supplies more intelligence to the EU than it receives.

“Can we be so sure that peace and stability on our continent are assured beyond any shadow of doubt? Is that a risk worth taking? I would never be so rash as to make that assumption,” said Cameron, in a pre-referendum speech on security issues in an effort to galvanize support to stay.

Cameron painted a gloomier picture than what the reality actually exudes. Britain will conveniently fall back on its “special relationship” with the US, but would undoubtedly be more secure within the confines of the EU. The US had voiced its preference of Britain remaining. “And I believe the UK strengthens both our collective security and prosperity through the EU”, said US President Obama, in relation to the cooperative security strength via Britain’s EU status.

“The United States wants a strong United Kingdom as a partner. And the United Kingdom is at its best when it’s helping to lead a strong Europe”, he further declared. With the exit confirmed, the countermeasures taken by the US will be interesting. Certainly, the maintenance of the “special relationship” is guaranteed, but will it influence affairs in Europe with a non-influential Britain? Obama has seen declared that despite the exit, the relationship will continue to endure.

The US’s interests in Europe have coincided with wielding and monitoring the actions of Russia through Britain. Boris Titov, a business ombudsman who advises the Kremlin, wrote on Facebook,”This is not Britain’s independence from Europe, but Europe’s independence from the US,” clearly highlighting the Russian opinion of US influence via Britain in the EU.

Economically, the millions of pounds used as member and program support fees in the EU can now be used to tighten border controls and many others facets of Britain’s national security such as intelligence gathering, equipment upgrade, maintenance, investment in training, and capacity development of both local police and the army.

Britain’s security is not severely undermined, but it has weakened minimally. Considering the EU is starting to adapt single security and foreign policies of its own, Britain will probably have to negotiate limited individual bilateral security pacts with EU member states, such as the Franco-British defense pact. Enhancement of these individual mutual dependence procurement pacts will be key elements in Britain’s security sustenance with the European continent.

Michael Harrison
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