Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems: Going Cheap

LONG READ: Under cover of the Brexit trade negotiations, the real trade deal has just happened. Nobody said anything about it; nobody knew about it.

In a window of radar invisibility created by the jamming of politics with chatter on an irrelevant Brexit, Her Majesty's Government has now sunk our money into the European Defence Agency and is already a major investor in the institution which funds it: the European Investment Bank. Every pound pledged to this EU military union budget, which now very much exists, is a pound subtracted from the Crown. That is the key trade deal which has gone on under our noses, sealing the fate of BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce, and with them the fate of HM Armed Forces.

We have long heard the adage in British politics that "there are no votes in defence". Recent events have indicated what those who use this saying mean by it: votes will be lost by the mainstream parties if the electorate realises what my recent submission to MPs and my previous article have set out about the continuing decision in Whitehall to let Britain lose its defence industry.

This article will set out the details of how the British defence industry is being betrayed. Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems are going cheap—courtesy of our own dear MoD's wanton and shameful conduct.

The Prime Minister's body language in her big Brexit speech last week, when asked by an El País journalist whether HM Government would continue funding the European Union, is very telling. As the well-established Texan commentator Bombard's Body Language notes:

You notice she cannot keep eye contact with the reporter, or the audience, in this [answer] either? We're talking about money. Paying the EU. And she is fumbling through this. She does not want to approach this subject. [Yet the question] seems very appropriate! Why would this be an issue; why would she not look at the reporter and say, "No, we're not going to pay the EU any more; we voted Brexit. Why would we keep giving them money?"

She's in constant search mode, but the eye contact is just fumbling: trying to look like doing something besides avoiding.

Why such reticence?

Because Mrs May knows full well that she has agreed to the mutually assured destruction of Britain's prime engineering; engineering with which the future of our military is inextricably bound up. Both have been sold short in London, not Brussels.

Facts on the ground

I reproduce below (with original bold type) Veterans for Britain's reaction to this betrayal, covering ground which will shortly be the subject of a published academic paper:

Despite assurances, the UK Government has given way to a major defence power-grab by the EU

Two proposals from the European Commission and the EU’s External Action Service and a third, highly-controversial plan from the European Parliament set out the EU's long-term aspirations in defence. The UK Government approved the key parts of these plans during EU Council meetings in November and December.

The two main proposals are the Security and Defence Implementation Plan (SDIP) and the European Defence Action Plan (EDAP), which include:

The first centralised EU defence budget supported by funding from the European Investment Bank (EIB), in which the UK is joint-largest shareholder. This will pay for the EU’s ‘defence capability’ projects and defence research.

Member states will generate EU military units by triggering PESCO (Permanent Structured Cooperation), a previously unused facility of the Lisbon Treaty.

The EU declares itself a distinct military presence in its own right with “defence decision-making autonomy from NATO”. This is all the more incredible when you consider that the plans claim to tackle duplication, only to create it at the highest level.

The creation of a defence single market, known as EDTIB. Defence procurement will be coordinated centrally by a greatly empowered European Defence Agency, with priorities being bartered between states. If the UK adheres to EDTIB post-Brexit, UK defence manufacturers production decisions would be subject to negotiation between member states.

The UK will now submit ‘defence capability priorities’ towards a centralised EU priority plan and make proposals for UK intelligence services to feed into a central EU intelligence hub, the Single Intelligence Analysis Capacity (SIAC). An implementation group is being formed by the EU in the next few weeks, initial implementation will be in the Spring and the first progress report will be in June – the EU admits to moving with "unprecedented" speed.

It is clear that the UK should have vetoed the proposals. Unfortunately, no veto was used due to pressure from EU leaders and the still-prevalent assumption that a departing UK would not be involved.

Unfortunately, the UK has not merely given permission for the rest of the EU to proceed, it has agreed to become involved too; EU Council staff have confirmed that the UK has no exemptions and “full responsibilities”.  Two further years of defence integration will make extrication more difficult and lengthy following Brexit.

Veterans for Britain is not exaggerating here. The House of Commons' European Scrutiny Committee has already "cleared from scrutiny", i.e. waved through, ex-communist Federica Mogherini's SDIP, and has failed to resist EDAP in that it has seen no objections to HM Government substantially raising its contributions to the European Defence Agency. These contributions have already been raised and the Secretary of State for Defence, Sir Michael Fallon, has pretended that neither of these EU plans is a threat: the EU's military headquarters, he said in November 2016 with a straight face, "does not extend to the military … or any kind of EU command and control." Let readers judge for themselves from the European Commission's own account (PDF) of its European Defence Action Plan what they make of Fallon's avowal.

Meanwhile, the Defence Committee, in sheepishly admitting its supine position on a back page of Parliament's website, managed to give the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy the erroneous first name 'Francesca'. Such is their familiarity with the life-and-death issues facing the nation. She must be the only foreign minister in the world who is positively glad of being able to operate in such obscurity!

So the EU's creation of an overt military with its own centralised procurement budget will never be debated in Parliament. A committee of MPs simply sent an FYI on the matter to the Defence Committee, the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Exiting the EU Committee.

What, meanwhile, is the reaction of NATO, whose thunder the EU is stealing with the SDIP and EDAP agendas? Look no further than this "EU defence conversation between experts". To me, it looks like NATO have asked two out-of-touch Remainers to waffle and obfuscate about SDIP and EDAP, barely acknowledging their existence and playing down the two plans. Behold how they fall over themselves to agree with each other, all the while pretending a diversity of views within NATO thinking. Evidently, we cannot rely on NATO any more than we can on Parliament to safeguard HM Armed Forces or the British defence industries they need.

The vultures are circling Rolls-Royce

As I never tire of saying, whenever we speak of defence, we must immediately think of defence industry. The press has been reporting on difficulties with the order books at Britain's two most significant defence engineering firms, BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce, for at least two years now. The 2015 and 2016 layoffs at Rolls-Royce have amounted to a massive 2,000 engineers. Rolls-Royce's nose is admittedly not squeaky clean, and I covered this in my most recent weekly appearance on UK Column News. But the punitive and humiliating conviction imposed indicates that Rolls-Royce's stock is now in play; the vultures are circling its still-breathing carcass.

The type of "corruption" that this key British engineering driver has been found guilty of is the old-style greasing of palms overseas, something which British governments since the Thatcher administration (and long before that, but hers was the first government to be embarrassed by it) have practised to seal deals. I would challenge critics of Rolls-Royce to name any defence contractor from any country which has managed demonstrably to sell equivalent quantities of equipment to the nations in question in the current scandal without paying baksheesh.

The typical byline offered in the mainstream press for the problems being suffered by Rolls-Royce's marine engines division, which is not even based in Britain nowadays but in Norway (how many MPs know that?), is simply that there is an ongoing downturn in the shipping market and that what ship production remains is increasingly automated. Bloomberg and CNBC were among those who reported the last layoffs in December 2016 from that perspective. (A year previously, Bloomberg had also ventured that profound management issues at Rolls-Royce might be the culprit.)

Yet those unfamiliar with engineering should not switch off here. The above press angle relates to the merchant shipping market. And, as my above-linked submission to the Defence Committee pointed out, civilian production of ships and aircraft is not the driver of engineering knowledge or engineering technology, nor is it the basis of a healthy order book for a company of the specialism and scope of Rolls-Royce. Rather, military production is the driver which spins off the production (to far less exacting standards) of civilian ships and aircraft.

Another agenda is at work

Let us then look at the granular detail of how Rolls-Royce's order book with the Royal Navy has been sold short by the Ministry of Defence.

A first-rank navy powers its prime war-winning assets, namely its aircraft carriers and its deterrent nuclear submarines, on nuclear-powered engines. (The Royal Navy actually had the chance to convert the whole fleet to nuclear-powered engines in 1965 but the Admiralty scuppered it, passing up on a technological leap as significant as the switch from coal-powered to oil-powered warships half a century earlier.) The MoD recently placed an order, on the Royal Navy's behalf, for a dozen nuclear reactors, some for the new Dreadnought-class nuclear submarines plus the accompanying new generation of hunter-killer submarines, and the rest of the dozen for the carriers which we will allegedly have some time in the future. It is worth understanding that whenever a new generation of 'bomber' nuclear submarines goes into service, the hunter-killers (the 'sneaky boats' which protect the bombers) typically have the same engines as the bombers themselves, allowing for a single production run to be formed.

The MoD then shifted all the goalposts, with the same continual meddling in defence companies' production processes which I have written of in my submission to Parliament. First, the MoD decided that the new carriers were going to run on a mixed aviation fuel and diesel power source, so that only the submarines would be requiring the new nuclear reactors after all. Secondly, they told Rolls-Royce to cut the original order of 12 even more drastically, because fewer submarines would have nuclear reactors than first envisaged. In fact, the Royal Navy was now only going to be allowed four new nuclear reactors. "Twelve or four, it's the same price," Rolls-Royce responded, and quite understandably so when the cost of this order subsists largely in the bespoke engineering design and testing of the new concept, rather than in the unit production price.

Here comes the dead giveaway of a master policy operating above and behind the Ministry of Defence. Having been told that the Royal Navy could have its original twelve nuclear engines for the same price as the revised order of four, the MoD responded that it would only be taking delivery of four anyway.

What does this indicate to us? Quite obviously, that interests running contrary to common sense and flying in the face of patriotism have embedded themselves in HM Government. Who would say "no thanks" to two-thirds of a valuable production run already set in motion when informed that the price could not be reduced at this stage anyway? To do so is to walk away from goods already paid for. The MoD would clearly do well to take basic thrift lessons from David Scott.

Back to the aircraft carriers. The MoD's revised order provides for them to be powered by conventional, not nuclear, fuel. The trouble is that the Royal Navy will never be able to afford the diesel to run this new generation of carriers, and hence Britain will have no global power projection. The MoD and those who control their purse strings in the Treasury were obviously well aware of this at the time when the order to Rolls-Royce was changed.

The UK Column can shed more light on the source of the treason. Uniquely among the media, and as far back as 2011, Brian Gerrish reported on events after and even before the 2010 general election which were held in secret on the assumption that David Cameron's "Conservative" Party would be returned to office and that the government he formed would be amenable to committing Britain to half a century's military integration with France. At the heart of this scheming was the Franco-British Council, availing itself of the British Ambassador's residence in Paris to hold the meetings and summoning staff officers to attend in business suits so as not to feel so bound by their oaths of allegiance while doing the deal. The EU has an established agenda of running the nuclear deterrent and the submarines and the aircraft carriers on the basis of Britain not being able to operate independently of France.

I therefore conclude that the mechanism by which the MoD has sold short the Armed Forces (for quite some time now) runs through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (and presumably the Treasury too) on its way to the paymasters overseas. Correspondence to me via the UK Column (preferably using the text form or the postal address, which are the only ways the message will reach me first-hand) is welcome from any civil servant or other person who knows more about this Whitehall end of the betrayal. This betrayal also automatically shortens the stock of Rolls-Royce and of BAE Systems, which are equally and inevitably affected.

There is something else I must note in passing. Producing a complex engine (whether or not nuclear-powered) requires many different engineering skills and is often a joint venture between companies, as I have often found in my own engineering career. Rolls-Royce contracts out the casting of all its MoD marine engines' pressure vessels (vital components of a nuclear reactor or any steam-producing engine) to Hitachi. I cannot go into this much in the present article, but suffice to say that Hitachi's industrial web is now enormous and extensive. No-one should be fooled by the company name into assuming that it is a purely Japanese or purely heavy manufacturing enterprise; it is spreading its tentacles into very sinister areas globally.

Commando raids on Rolls-Royce from further afield

The French Government and their chosen London lackeys are not the only ones interested in asset-stripping Rolls-Royce. There is also a transatlantic vector.

To understand it, one must bear in mind that EU-imposed Russian sanctions are hitting Rolls-Royce hard. Rolls-Royce would be quite content to sell to Russia but has had to stop. Its Avon engine, which has enjoyed runaway success since the end of the Second World War in a succession of marks in a range of military (jet engine and marine) and civilian (power-generating) applications, is selling extremely well to Iran. Or should I exercise caution and say that the sales are merely via Iran? Much of this trade is conducted by means of parts of engines finding their way to Iran (there have, after all, been engineering sanctions against Iran too), in sufficient quantities to allow complete engines to be reassembled.

Readers with no background in engineering should understand at this point that a high-quality Rolls-Royce engine type is a multigenerational national asset. The engine types I am now going to discuss were all planned to be capable of development, refinement and waves of new applications over half a century. They are the British defence industry's golden eggs.

My suspicion, and that of some of SDI's sources, is that the operation to buy Avons in bulk has been set up ultimately not by the Tehran authorities but by a competitor of Rolls-Royce's. Iran is being put up as a front, as it has in Obama's notorious Iran nuclear deal (as deplored, for instance, by retired US Marine Lt. Colonel Zumwalt).

There is something akin here to the skulduggery that went on in the 1970s when Rolls-Royce's engineering masterpiece of that decade, the RB211, experienced teething troubles as its early variants, which had ceramic blades, entered the market and threatened American manufacturer Pratt & Whitney's previous dominance in that up-and-coming class of engines (the turbofan class). A dispassionate recent Chinese analysis of the problem, for those with an interest in engineering, is found here. A British academic mechanical engineer, J Michael Owen of the University of Bath, has the following analysis:

In the 1960s, the Pratt & Whitney JT9 twin-spool high-bypass-ratio (HBR) engine dominated the civil and military transport market.  Rolls-Royce, in an attempt to catch up with its US competitors, began to develop the RB211, a triple-spool HBR engine (see Fig. 3).  Apart from having to overcome the technical problems associated with triple-spool engines, Rolls-Royce also attempted to use a carbon-fibre composite material for the large fan blades.  This proved a "development too far", and delamination of the composite blades, as a result of impact damage from ice particles or from bird ingestion, made the new material unsuitable.  Technical and financial problems led to the demise of the company, which was nationalised from 1971 to 1987.  Like the phoenix arising from the ashes, Rolls-Royce recovered and the RB211-family of triple-spool engines has been a technical and a commercial success which led to the development of the Trent family of engines.

While I would contend that there was more intrigue in that 1970s stage of Rolls-Royce company history than the above might indicate (even non-specialists can gain an impression of that if they look at the context of the open defeatist talk in the mid-1970s of Britain as the "sick man of Europe" and not a viable industrial producer any more), the main point is that the current Avon scenario could endanger Rolls-Royce's viability as much as the early days of the RB211 did. The upshot is that the Americans want the RB211's current-day successor, the Trent engine, and they want it in-house by taking its production over entirely under Pratt & Whitney branding. It seems that the Avon-Iran intrigue is someone's way of getting it, and this is certainly not the only example my sources have of embarrassingly superior British engineering being taken over lock, stock and barrel by American buyers (to the level of walking into a workshop and inviting every man in it to move Stateside) while HM Government stands idly by. And where is the big money in taking over the production of Trent? Well, Boeing uses Trent engines in its two most important civilian airliners of the day: the 777 and the 787.

Vive la concorde! How a Wall Street clique sank our aircraft industry

There are yet more knives out for the jewel in the British engineering crown. Another superb family of Rolls-Royce engines first designed shortly after the Second World War War, Olympus, is now said to be "on its way out" and "obsolete". This is strange, given how well Olympus engines perform and the very long service life of a top-end engine type as noted above. Olympus is known in the industry as an incredibly reliable, powerful, go-fast marine engine; the only possible quibble with it is that it is comparatively fuel-hungry. Fuel efficiency is surely the very lowest priority for military engine orders, if one has any sense. Reliability, thrust and speed are very much more important if one does not intend to lose a war.

There are two versions of the Olympus engine: the marine and the aeronautical. The marine version is the choice par excellence for speedy, heavy ships, and is the engine that drove HMS Illustrious, Ark Royal and Invincible, three treasonously-scrapped light aircraft carriers, as well as a number of other warships. The aeronautical version powered the ultimate Franco-British aircraft, Concorde. I have already mentioned the existence since 2009 of a joint Franco-British defence agreement whereby we ultimately throw our conventional military assets and nuclear weapons systems into the hat with France, producing a single set of assets that will ultimately end up being controlled by the EU. The model of how Concorde was done down provides an analogy for how Rolls-Royce will be done down again. Then as now, the only people who profited from the turn of events were Boeing's shareholders.

The secret of Concorde's superb performance was its Rolls-Royce Olympus 593 SNECMA engine (the video linked here is well worth watching for the Concorde pilot's eloquent description of just how far ahead British airliner engineering had pulled in the 1960s when the Concorde design was being put together). The original production run envisaged for Concorde was 170 aircraft, the same number as was originally planned for Britain's next most impressive airliner of the era, Vickers' fast subsonic Super VC10. In the end, BOAC (British Airways' precursor) ordered only 35 Super VC10s and British Airways ended up operating only seven Concordes.

While the BOAC chairmen of the era when the Super VC10 was pioneered (Sir Basil Smallpeice and his successor Sir Giles Guthrie) made no secret at all of their view that BOAC was not the government and was not there to stimulate British aircraft manufacturing, the real harm to both of these superlative airliners came from the incompetence (or worse) of Sir Michael Heseltine and from interest groups in the United States.

Heseltine, who a decade later faced similar aeronautical controversy in the Westland affair (when his cabinet colleague Sir Leon Brittan wanted Britain's last helicopter manufacturer to be absorbed by an American company, Sikorsky), was the Minister for Aerospace at the time when Concorde was ready for production and was hence Britain's Concorde salesman. Overseas airlines' orders for it were cancelled in great quantities, ostensibly due to the 1973 oil crisis. (Ian R Crane recently recalled in an interview with Patrick Henningsen (at 30:00) how that oil crisis was deliberately created by Western policymakers, not Middle Eastern exporters.) By this time, the British Aircraft Corporation (the forerunner of British Aerospace) had already made eleven Concordes, and Her Majesty's Government was obliged to give, not sell, these to the newly-formed British Airways. Heseltine and his cabinet colleagues lacked the gumption or the belief in British industry to have the whole production run of 170 Concordes built and issued to BA.

What was behind this apparent British ineptitude? Heseltine's latent loyalties to the then EEC were certainly a possible factor, but Graham Simons identifies Concorde's real opponent in the conclusion of his book Concorde Conspiracy: The Battle for American Skies 1962-77:

Some Americans – and not just the manufacturers – were very keen to go ahead and build SSTs [supersonic transports, as pioneered by British engineers]. Others were determined to do all they could to kill them off by using fair means or foul.

It is clear from the located [by the author] documentation that Concorde started to die as a viable project from the moment Robert McNamara became part of the Kennedy administration – a process that was strengthened when he was appointed to head up the President's Advisory Committee under [Kennedy's successor as US President] Lyndon Johnson. At that moment he decided to kill off the US SST [project], which set in motion a process that ensured Concorde could never succeed commercially. McNamara also killed off the B-70 Mach 3 bomber that could have been used as the basis for an American SST and, through manipulation of funding with the World Bank, also ensured the death of the UK TSR-2 strike aircraft. Indeed, it has been argued that by killing off the TSR-2, McNamara forced the entire [Rolls-Royce] Olympus 593 engine development costs – that would have otherwise been in the defence budget – on to Concorde, the share of which would otherwise have been minor.

Let us not reserve all our venom for Bob McNamara; he was merely the delivery agent for interests in the military-industrial-financial complex. (Even Noel Edmonds pointed out to BBC TV viewers in 1989 that opposition to Concorde was fronted from within the US Senate first and foremost, as well as by "the faceless civil servants".) McNamara's technique for sinking Britain's Super VC10 the previous decade, the fastest and best-performing subsonic airliner ever made, was his "advice" that the Boeing 707 was ten cents a mile cheaper. Indeed, Boeing did sell its 707s with a headline price a little bit cheaper than Vickers sold its Super VC10s, but airlines soon found to their cost that Boeing charged five times as much for spare parts as Vickers did. The profit on the entire job was Boeing’s; they now rule the civilian aircraft industry and another American company, Lockheed, dominates the world's military industry.

Much was also made by Concorde's organised opponents in the United States, once it began landing in Washington and New York in 1977, about its supposedly worse noise generation compared with other airliners of the time (note that a comment posted under that video link describes the "resident" protestors, with their big talk of the "American people fighting" against Concorde, as a rentacrowd). Early incarnations of the environmentalist movement also protested about Concorde's fuel consumption.

This American method of besting the British military advantage is in fact just the same as we saw after Suez: in the aftermath of that strategic reverse, the Royal Navy haemorrhaged its Mediterranean Fleet immediately (just as France completely changed its Mediterranean engagement strategy in the wake of Suez) and the US was then free to build up its aircraft carrier forces in those same waters.

How else has the military-industrial complex in the United States held the MoD to ransom? Boeing and Lockheed's C-17 Globemaster is one example. The Royal Air Force leased, rather than buying, its Globemasters. The agreed lease price soon turned out to be not the end of it; the RAF had been sold a pup. "Oh, you want to fly at night?", the American owners said; "you will have to buy the obligatory bolt-on software package for that." "What, you're planning to overfly that country?" they next interjected, "we have a chargeable software patch for that." Leasing each Globemaster turned out to cost the MoD four times as much as buying outright would have. I confidently predict that Boeing will shortly pull the same software leasing trick on the RAF for Poseidon, the replacement for the Nimrods (we are currently without any anti-submarine warfare airframes and are having to buy Poseidon to plug the gap). We are going to be held to ransom again.

Obama's Iran nuclear deal is another plank of the anti-British effort. Under this deal, the US Government and Boeing have pumped hundreds of billions of dollars into Iran for Iran to buy Airbus. (Why, one might ask, are the Iranians not being encouraged to buy Boeing instead?) The deal was underwritten by some chummy group deal whose participants pumped the money into Iran's allocation to buy Airbus. That this is not a bona fide "Iranian" purchase of Airbus, which of course is European and the only real competitor of Boeing, is evident from the fact that the purchase is to be made with money from the US.

Whatever conglomerate emerges from this merry-go-round of murky megabillion deals will be the world's unchallenged leviathan of defence industry. The money is swirling around at present but will have to come down and stick to some entity or other in time. That entity, once it emerges, will be what launches an aggressive bid for BAE Systems, triggering another buyout of Rolls-Royce and Babcock International, Britain's other surviving defence supplier.

The bitterest blow if and when this happens will be that BAE will be bought with its own money (the money represented by the assets in its portfolio). This traditional Wall Street means of buyout, a buyout leveraged on the "residual value" of the victim's assets, is well known and can be practised by those well versed in it even if they as buyers are strapped for cash. All that is needed is the round of chummy phone deals I just described. SDI sources inform us that the cantilevered money for just such an asset-strip of BAE Systems was already waiting in the City of London last year. Get ready for Boeing to neutralise its British and European competition, BAE Systems and Airbus, on the back of that Iran deal.

A complacent political class

I have set out that the current situation with Rolls-Royce in particular has the modus operandi of previously-known foes all over it. Britain will see much more of this asset-stripping stitch-up if we don't kick back hard without delay. It is, of course, a classic technique in the British media to bray loudly and repeatedly (also known as deploying 'chatter') about resisting A while letting B slip through. That is the cover under which Britain's failure to negotiate in the national interest at the European Defence Agency were shoved through before Christmas. The chatter, of which we have recently seen a huge increase in defence and defence industry arising both from the MoD itself and from the media's largely clueless "defence correspondents", delays public and MPs' awareness of the treason; it is a patch–delay–overt glare job. Nobody other than Veterans for Britain and the UK Column is using the right language to inform the public what is going on.

All this energy wasted on chatter and no attention paid to the reality of EU military integration! What the diversionary blather about "trade deals" and "British red lines" tells us is that the foe is very obviously worried. We can identify the foe by identifying who is generating, and attracting media attention to, the chatter. It is radar jamming to slip through the real agenda unnoticed. The military integration of the EU by destroying Britain's capability is the political stealth of our day, the radar-avoiding issue of our generation. So important is it that the Prime Minister dare not even use the words "military union" for fear that the British people will not support this policy of surrendering the Crown and HM Armed Forces to a foreign state (the EU).

With the nodding-through of EU military integration, and Fallon's slipping through HM Government's approval—and increased funding—of the entities (SDIP and EDA) which will make EU military integration a sharp-toothed reality, the enemy was testing whether Parliament was awake or not. No, the enemy found; Parliament is not awake, it is fast asleep with the portcullis up. Boxers know this classic technique as the "brush" and slip it in immediately before knocking out their opponent with a right upper cut. A gentle tickle at arm's length is enough to gauge the opponent's distance and judge his state of alertness. We have not so much a "puppet parliament", as the Rt Hon John Redwood MP said in the House of Commons last year and elucidated in writing, as a chamber asleep and impotent to defend the people it purports to represent. We have a Commons which does not realise that the real trade deal is EU military union and that it is not a theory but is going on right in front of MPs' noses. The handful of Eurosceptic Labour MPs, such as Kate Hoey, have been just as quiet as most Conservative MPs on the matter. 

But it is not just Parliament that is asleep. There has not been a squeak out of UKIP or the press. Are we to downgrade our own industrial capacity to allow our own demise? Have we chosen to adopt a strategy of making nothing on our own? What an indictment of EU policy, but above all, what an indictment of the quality of people in British politics and media. We are being mesmerised by the trickling clunk-clunk-clunk at the top of a Connect 4 game while the real damage is being done by sleight of hand down below. Are we fools enough to take the advice given in Blazing Saddles: "If you shoot him, you'll just make him mad"?

Marshall Plan supremo W. Averell Harriman told us this was coming. The EU's Common Agriculture Policy and Common Fisheries Policy, which have consumed so many billions over the decades and wrecked so many British livelihoods and denuded us of our ability to feed ourselves, were mere housekeeping compared with the military union now looming.

In fact, Mrs Thatcher's famous "No! No! No!" to the the integration planned by the then President of the European Commission, Jacques Delors, which she uttered in the House of Commons in October 1990 just days before her political assassination and which made no mention of military union, was a line she had already uttered in private in 1984 at the European Council at Fontainebleau where she did her famous handbagging act over CAP funding. She demurred from letting the nation hear her triple "No" at the time (1984) after having been urged by her own party men that even to mention the vague future prospect of European military union in public was far too sensitive.

Delors, on the other hand, never made any secret of the military union plan (une défense commune) at that time, and it was in fact the three policy proposals, headed by military union, that Delors mentions in that video link (in French) as his ideas for relaunching Ever-Closer Union to which Mrs Thatcher had first said "No! No! No!" behind closed doors. The 'wets' who shut her up in 1984 (an appropriate year in which to be silenced) furiously stabbed her in the back very shortly after she finally did come out with the line in Parliament.

Delors' other two ideas which he put to heads of government at Fontainebleau were a single currency and the removal of member states' vetoes over decision-making, both of which of course became a reality in the subsequent decades over Mrs Thatcher's retired body. And, curiously enough, in that clip Delors says that he was only free to reveal the triple plan for Ever-Closer Union at Fontainebleau because the then French President and holder of the rotating presidency of the European Council, François Mitterrand, had pre-cooked all other agenda items, which Delors dismisses as 'domestic squabbles' (les querelles de famille). The fact that both Delors and Mitterrand were Frenchmen is of course entirely unrelated to the fact that France stood to gain Britain's nuclear assets from military union.

At the House of Lords recently, I lobbied a former Cabinet minister about the threat to Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems which this article has outlined. "Oh, I don't think that can happen," he replied, "because the Government has a golden share in both those companies." What this good man failed to realise was that the EU, against which he has consistently spoken, ranks above nation states in the world order and is able to circumvent HM Government completely with its ace of trumps: EU military union.

In fact, this is a two-pronged trumping of sovereign goverment: EU military union proper (which is going on right now as described above) will go hand in glove with EU military industrial union. With this, HM Government's "golden share" in Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems or anything else whose destruction they fondly imagine they have a veto over will be nullified. Besides, these companies now have very little on their order books, and as my submission to MPs noted, BAE Systems has already been targeted for a hostile bid by the Continental defence industry conglomerate EADS, and before that, Lockheed and Boeing have both previously expressed an interest in taking it over. It is already an undermined and hollowed-out national asset.

As a West Midlands engineer, I shall finish with an illustration of the danger from close to home. One of the cornerstones of the British armaments industry in the aerospace sector was Dunlop. It was bought out by Meggitt and ultimately its assets as a former company ended up with the same old beast as always, Lockheed. This was a loss of prime, grade 1 British engineering. But Lockheed, Boeing and EADS still want to have their cake and eat it. Having asset-stripped Dunlop from Coventry and relocated its production facilities to Mexico, they had the brass neck to try to hoover up Dunlop's sub-contractors in Coventry.

Dunlop had only been the middle man for the superb products it delivered, and while the buyout was still in progress, Lockheed men turned up at the premises of C H Young Tools, the engineering and toolmaking company that fed its products into the MoD, Lockheed and EADS via Dunlop. "Come and work in Mexico as an arm's-length employee of Lockheed," the visitors told the factory foreman. His response was unprintable. While we can revel in his Shankill Road pluck, what we have lost through episodes such as this is British engineering's ability to bring to market at the right price timely and reliable goods, our industrial diversity, and ultimately our defence capability. If our MPs and journalists are not bothered about this, it is time that the people became bothered.


Main image: Kārlis Dambrāns (CC BY 2.0)