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Brexit – the Role of the Military

August 21, 2018


According to the Mirror 21st August 2018,

“Second Brexit referendum could spark ‘civil disobedience’ says top Labour MP Barry Gardiner

Barry Gardiner warned people could turn to “more socially-disruptive ways of expressing their views” and a second vote could fuel the extreme right.

The shadow cabinet minister’s comments come despite growing support among backbench Labour and Tory MPs for a new referendum on Britain’s final Brexit deal.

Critics say such a vote – which Labour hasn’t backed, but hasn’t ruled out in future either – would betray the 52%-48% vote to leave the EU in 2016.

Mr Gardiner said both Remain and Leave campaigners had argued the 2016 vote would determine the UK’s future for the next 40 or 50 years.

However the smart money seems to be on a No Deal Brexit with all the disruption that will cause. Richard Murphy of Tax Research UK writes,

“I admire my friends who think we will stay in the EU. I wish I shared any of their confidence. I can’t see it happening.

I suspect that Lord (Bob) Kerslake accurately reflected the opinion of the civil service at the weekend when he said that he believes they will advise ministers that they must put leaving on hold because of the damage it will cause to the country. I cannot, however, see them acting on the advice. The Tories are too fearful of Johnson and Rees-Mogg to do so. Nor will they call an election for fear of losing it, and no one else can force it. Nor I suspect does Labour have the willing [sic]: I am far from alone in thinking Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell are entirely happy about leaving. In that case I can’t see how March 29 can be avoided.

But nor can I see any agreement being reached beforehand: none of the key components, whether they be willing, competence, or the political capital to deliver any proposed settlement, exist to make that possible. We are, inevitably, and by default, heading for hard Brexit as far as I can see. I would love to think otherwise. I admire those who are willing to put their efforts into seeking to avoid this disaster, which might be the biggest self-imposed act of economic self-destruction in very many decades, if not centuries. But, it would appear that the only outcome of which we are capable is the worst, which is leaving without a deal. I would love to be wrong for once: I simply doubt that there is even the smallest chance that I am at present.

The best we might hope for is that this then might be the catalyst for the absolutely essential change that is required if British society is to be reformed. But even that may be optimistic. It may instead permit something much worse to develop.

If anyone has a way of avoiding disaster might they say so now? The time for avoiding it is fast running out.”

The possibility of the military being called in to help in some capacity has been mentioned; it seems inevitable, whether or not we crash out in March. Can the military expect a coherent set of orders from politicians? I suspect not. They should take note of thje experience of Major General Jonathan Shaw, who when he was GOC of the MND(SE)) in Basra, Iraq in 2007, tasked with sorting out the situation there. He writes, “We found ourselves without an overall cross-government plan within which to construct our own military plan.  In part this was because of a misunderstanding of the nature of the conflict we were engaged in.” [note 1] The usual plan of using force first to bring stability, and only then tackle the politics was not working; a parallel approach was required. His unit had to draw up its own terms of reference which then had to be agreed by the FCO and DfID.

In regard to Brexit the politicians are too wrapped up in the politics to appreciate the economic and social facts.. Hopefully the military could do better; they could hardly do worse. I hope they already thinking about it.

Note 1: Jonathan Shaw, “Britain in a Perilous World: The Strategice Defence and Security Review We Need”, Haus Curiosities, 2014


From → Democracy

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