The Brexit impact on defence and security

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NDI, EEF’s defence and security experts, has identified immediate consequences post referendum on the UK’s defence and security relationships. Richard Rumbelow, EEF Interim Head of Defence Security and Industry Policy considers what these might be.


The British vote to leave the EU has caused some unease within our closest diplomatic and defence partners. ‘Brexit means Brexit’ will provide short-term cover whilst the Government determines how it wishes to re-calibrate its European partnerships. A UK desire to maintain prominent diplomatic and defence positions will be a strong factor in shaping our new international relationships. 


The UK will remain strategically and ideologically committed to NATO, and a critical partner in its military and diplomatic posture. This will be unaffected by any EU withdrawal. In 2015, the UK pledged a significant military equipment investment programme in support of its’ NATO membership. A possible concern to NATO would be any significant economic headwinds that force programme delays and increase in-service equipment costs. This is not in the interests of industry and something we will monitor closely.


UK will remain a significant military power in Europe. It has shown broad support for EU-wide programmes where they support mutual defence and security co-ordination. Bi-lateral cooperation on military and other security arrangements should also continue post Brexit. This has been particularly apparent through military deployments concerning EU humanitarian projects and counter-terrorism activities under the Common Security and Defence Policy. It remains to be seen what, if any, UK contribution will be made to such initiatives.


Where the UK’s influence may be missed is in removing a restraining effect on EU plans to create parallel military structures to NATO. Post Brexit the EU looks set to press ahead creating potential problems for non - EU NATO members, who have previously relied on the UK’s EU membership to limit these ambitions.  


Finally, any future question marks about Scotland’s future as part of the United Kingdom might have impact on the location of the UK’s nuclear deterrent and the balance and basing of other UK operational assets.


NDI will be at the forefront of discussions with influencers and policymakers setting out the importance of defence to UK’s industrial base. 


For more information and to find out how to become an NDI member, visit our Membership page.

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