The next UK government – of whatever political stripe – will face two crucial questions when it comes to defence and security – what do you intend to do with the military and, once you have decided, what is the criteria for deciding what capabilities you need?
RUSI convened a debate between political parties on the subject of defence ahead of the UK General Election, scheduled for 8 June 2017. The main topics proved to be the requirement for a full defence review after the election, and whether the current force level was affordable.
This is the ‘Brexit Election’ – called because of it, and fought over the right to conduct it. Nevertheless, so far, and now in the manifestos, Brexit is present everywhere but hardly discussed. It is the spectre at the feast of domestic initiatives.
The British government has confirmed that it is ordering nine Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to fill the gap in UK capabilities left by the retirement of the Nimrod MR2 and cancellation of the follow-on Nimrod MRA4 in 2010.
The likelihood of a second referendum designed to reverse the first referendum’s decision (as in the Republic of Ireland in 2009) remains very low in the UK, so the Brexit verdict seems irreversible. It also appears certain that the new prime minister, Theresa May, will eventually trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, likely in September or October.
Although British foreign policy is likely to encounter a variety of hardships after the withdrawal from the EU, some of the options still offer interesting opportunities which should not diminish the country’s international standing and contribution.
The UK PONI Autumn Seminar brought together three former Cabinet ministers to present personal accounts of their interactions with nuclear policy and decision-making, conveying their insights to the...