On Monday last week, Lord James of Blackheath attended a conference held at the Royal United Services Institute entitled ‘EU Defence Union - the threat to democracy, industry and alliances’. The conference was also attended by, amongst others, NATO and Ministry of Defence advisor Professor Gwythian Prins and a number of former senior military officers.
The briefing covered the consequences for the UK if the defence and security sections of Theresa May’s Brexit ‘deal’ and its associated ‘Political Declaration on the Future Relationship’ are approved.
At that meeting it was agreed that Lord James would raise the issue in the House of Lords, which he did four days later.
Video footage of that intervention has received wide public distribution on Twitter.
We have this wonderful paper called Yellowhammer, which tells us all the dreadful things that will happen if we do go no-go. My secretary has an alternative list that I have complied called the Black Vulture, which is my list of the things that people do not know about which will happen if we do not go no deal.
The first is the hazard it creates for the Crown. The second is: will somebody please tell us the truth about the European defence union? This is by far the biggest issue facing the British public and they know nothing about it officially. Can we please have a proper account of what it entails? Is it really true that the Government have entered into private agreements with the European Community that they will, on completion of remain or whatever it is to be, transfer to the European Union in Brussels the entire control of our entire fighting forces, including all their equipment?
Noble Lords may jest, but it has been done and they should check it out. It is too important to ignore.
We must know the truth of this.
We must have it clear for the whole public to know. I believe it is true, and I think we should be told. I understand that it is intended that the oath of every serving member of our forces will be cancelled and they will be required to undertake a new oath of loyalty to Brussels.
I understand that in recent months, we have had a series of people sent from our Armed Forces to create and install the command and control centres to be used for the control of our troops once we have ceased to have any control over their use, application or deployment.
It goes beyond this. They are to take control of our intelligence services, the whole core of Five Eyes. They will have MI6 and the Cheltenham monitoring centre, and we will be completely excluded from it under the new arrangements and have no access either to the—
At this point, Lord Blunkett, former Home Secretary in Tony Blair's cabinet intervened with what could be perceived to be a threat:
I wonder whether the noble Lord would be prepared to give way just for one moment. I appeal to him to conclude, because it is not in either his interests or the interests of the Committee for him to continue.
Why would it not be in Lord James’ interests to continue?
In the lobby following the Lords’ session, Lord James was approached by former Defence Secretary and NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson, who, incandescent with rage, demanded to know Lord James’ sources for the statements he made in the House.
Shut Up Or Else!
Lord James’ sources should be clear to everyone who has been following the UK Column’s coverage of this developing issue. He said nothing in his speech which is not already in the public domain, and which has not already been reported by UK Column amongst others. The only addition from Lord James was the demand for the government to come clean on their intentions so that the public can make an informed choice.
Consider James’ main question, what does EU Defence Union entail?
This is a good question. It is one which the entire British political establishment has steadfastly either refused to answer at all, or has given diversionary responses about the EU having no plans for an ‘EU Army’.
To find an answer to this question we have to look to the EU itself, Tony Blair and RUSI.
For the EU, Ursula von der Leyen, former German Defence Minister, has been absolutely open about her plans for what Defence Union entails:
“I want to talk about four components ... which I believe are important for setting up a European Defence Union,” she said. “First of all, just two or three weeks ago, for the first time, we were able to give the green light for a European command capacity in Brussels. That is the first time that military and civil instruments would be commanded together, where these commands would actually come from one single command office.
“This is a major step forward. It was unthinkable a short while ago, but it's precisely the right approach to have if we want a European flavour to our defence policy.”
In a previous statement, she made it clear that the EU would wish to pursue interventionist policies in Africa, a continent, she said, where NATO has no real interest.
Strangely enough, her comments were echoed by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
So the EU and British Europhile former Prime Ministers are absolutely on the same page about where Defence Union will go.
It doesn’t end there, though. The Royal United Services Institute has hosted many briefings on the subject, which garner no mainstream media coverage. One such example is a conference called 'Defence Implications of Brexit’, held in March 2017.
At that event, the European Council on Foreign Relations' Nick Witney called for a joint Anglo-French nuclear deterrent, “if Trump cannot be impeached or house trained.”
So if the evidence of Defence Union and its implications are out there, why the vitriolic attack on Lord James?
We suggest the reason is that this is the first time the question has been asked in such a direct way in such a public political forum (the debate on one of the most controversial bills ever submitted to Parliament) in breach of the pact to remain totally silent on EU Defence Union, made between the Tory and Labour Parties, as reported to us by a former Trident Admiral in 2015.
The Threats Ramp Up
The abusive responses Lord James received from Lord Blunkett and Lord Robertson in the House of Lords were mild compared to more recent communications.
Since then, other Lordly colleagues have begun demanding he resign immediately and have advised him he can expect a visit from the police for breach of the Official Secrets Act.
Lord James has had the bravery to lift the lid on a policy no-one else in the political establishment wants to discuss. He needs widespread public support.
See the EU Defence Union timeline for more.