A Phased Return To Fortress Europe?

When Nicola Sturgeon first spoke about Scotland making a “phased return” to the EU, I couldn’t help picturing her standing in the ticket office at Glasgow Central, struggling to explain her intricate travel plan to the hapless ScotRail employee behind the glass-screened counter. “Naebody’s ever asked fur that before,” comes the confused response. “It’s gonnae involve quite a few platform changes and probably a ferry ride as well, ah think.”

Meanwhile, a queue of impatient customers is growing – and groaning – behind our globe-trotting First Minister. As the line begins to stretch out into the main station concourse, a big bearded bloke with blue and white woad painted on his face and a lion rampant draped around his shoulders – probably heading to Hampden – starts scrunching up his SNP season ticket and yelling: “C’mon hen, jist buy a wan-way tae Independence Street like the rest ae us.”

The fact that the FM first publicly referred to Scotland “regaining” EU membership in a serious of stages way back in May 2017 (on the Andrew Marr Show) reveals that she never thought there was a snowball’s chance of stopping Brexit or lobbying Downing Street successfully for separate access to the single market and customs union for Scottish exporters. She was right about that, although she could have spared us some of her pointless rhetoric.

Consequently, all we can do now is count the lifebelts because there’s no time left to scramble off the Great British ship of state as it sets sail into the wild Atlantic without a navigation system and a captain completely clueless about where on earth we are heading. As Scots, we’re stuck as usual down in the stinking hold, with all the other valueless cargo, praying we don’t develop scurvy on the voyage.

Whether we can or will stage a successful mutiny before this crazy vessel collides with some killer economic iceberg is impossible to say at this point. Even more unsettling, we can’t foresee what the EU will be like if we ever do manage to escape the sinking hulk of the UK. Will it remain the seeming rock of stability and security to which most Scots are currently so desperate to cling? Again, none of us know.

All of which made Alyn Smith MEP sound as credible and convincing as Mystic Meg or Russell Grant (remember him?) when he reached recently for his laptop to tell readers of The Herald without a scintilla of self-doubt: “Scottish independence will mean being part of the EU and being part of NATO.”

Smith has grown a bit arrogant since he delivered what he modestly described as “the speech of my life” in the stunned aftermath of the UK referendum result. Who could possibly forget his passionate, plaintive plea to his fellow Euro Parliamentarians in Strasbourg: “Please remember this, Scotland did not let you down. Please, I beg you, chers collègues, do not let Scotland down now!”

A telegenic performance alright, which earned him a roaring standing ovation in a chamber not known for riveting exchanges. And certainly quite a mammoth contrast to the last time he packed such an impact with his stirring oratory. Smith, you may also recall, was loudly heckled and jeered at the SNP’s great Nato debate in 2012 when he told delegates that maintaining opposition to the nuclear alliance would be “hopelessly naive” and a sign Scotland was “not ready for the big league”.

I remember watching it at the time in my apartment in Dublin and being especially incensed by the “big league” bit. That off-the-cuff contempt for fellow nationalists who still had the audacity to dream of a nuclear-free nation encapsulated just how grotesquely half a decade in semi-power at Holyrood had already gone to some people’s heads in the SNP hierarchy. They were starting to lose the run of themselves, as the Irish would say.

Now, as I spool through that debate on YouTube, it’s the “hopelessly naive” jibe that gets on my goat, for there is no finer description than that of Alyn Smith MEP himself. By continuing to fantasise about an independent Scotland being warmly embraced by both the EU and Nato, he is clearly still pinning his naive hope in a hopeless illusion of independence – as is the leader of his party, alas.

Neither Sturgeon nor Smith seem to have clocked the fact that Nato’s days are numbered. Before too long the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation will join the Great British ship of state at the bottom of the ocean.

The Western alliance is doomed not just because of The Donald: some time before Trump started moaning and tweeting about freeloading Europeans sheltering under the US’s nuclear umbrella, military strategists had begun rapidly shifting their primary attention from the North Atlantic to the Pacific in response to a rising perception in the Pentagon that Xi Xinping’s China now poses a far graver threat to America’s global preeminence than Putin’s Russia.

Nato is also in the final countdown to oblivion because of the startling new direction in which the EU has been heading since that smooth talking, enigmatic political operator called Macron emerged from the dark shadows in the City of Light to sweep to power in France’s presidential election.

He’s been hailed as Europe’s saviour but this Emmanuel is evidently no prince of peace. Since taking up residence in the Elysée Palace, the former Rothschilds banker has been as bellicose as anyone inside the Washington Beltway. Less than a year after ascending to office, Macron quickly reversed a decade of defence cuts by approving nearly €300bn in military spending by France by 2025 (a year after his current five-year term in office expires).

Even more ominously, France’s demagogic president chose to mark the centenary of the First World War at Verdun – the site of one of the longest and most savagely fought battles of that horrendous conflict – by calling for the creation of a “true European army” to counter what he termed the mounting threat posed not just by China and Russia but America also. Although he later retreated a bit, it was plainly a premeditated rhetoric missile attacked.

Since the start of the Cold War, it has been a recurring fantasy of the French political elite – across the party divides – to end what they see as American hegemony in western Europe, but few have voiced opposition to this subtle vassalage so openly up to now. Such diplomatic reticence was abandoned a second time in December when a former French prime minister also showed no compunction about alienating the Americans.

Calling on the UK to abandon its oft-vaunted (at least on this side of the Atlantic) ‘Special Relationship’ with the UK by entering into a nouveau alliance with France, Bernard Cazeneuve stated on camera: “This (proposed new) relationship cannot be torn between the willingness to strengthen the (European) Union’s capabilities, which is France’s view, and the privileged relationship with NATO and the United States which, traditionally, is more the United Kingdom’s view.”

It is with a former secretary-general of NATO that this ex-PM teamed up to swiftly advance this agenda. The Right Honourable Lord (George) Robertson of Port Ellen co-authored a report drawn up by the Franco-British Taskforce under the joint auspices of the Institut Montaigne in Paris and the Policy Institute of King’s College London. At the launch of their report a few months back, this former defence secretary in the first Blair administration, stated: “Two countries equally serious about defence obviously make natural allies in the fight against common threats.”

A staunch defender of both Trident and the Anglo-Scottish Treaty of Union, General George – never slow to don a military helmet or clamber aboard a tank for media photo stunts – infamously warned a (doubtless spellbound) Washington audience, in the final furlong of the 2014 referendum campaign, that it would be “cataclysmic in geopolitics terms” for Scotland to break-up Britain, “still an anchor of the Western world.”

The peer from Port Ellen (unelected, of course) has surfaced again – like the first Polaris subs he protested against on the banks of the Holy Loch as a teenager – because the geopolitical nightmare which has started to affect his sleep at night is now a potential weakening Anglo-French military co-operation.

Displaying his penchant for apocalypticism, he echoed Cazeneuve by warning: “It would be simply disastrous for Britain and dangerous for our people if we were to allow Brexit to put a brake on co-operation.” It certainly would be a disaster for the military-industrial complex, on both sides of La Manche, if the London-Paris axis he so fervently advocates does not soon solidify.

A Franco-British alliance that will endure whatever becomes of Brexit is assuredly what Macron and May were cooking up when she flew down to his holiday pad in the south of France for secret talks over a four-course gourmet meal. It’s also why this duo appeared so close and conspiratorial when they met more publicly at the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst
From a hawk’s perspective, continued joint production of Eurofighter Typhoon jets – produced by a consoritum of Airbus, BAE and Leonardo – cannot be jeopardised. Britain and France presently account for 50% of European defence spending and even more of its actual capability. Most crucial of all, they are the only two member states which possess nuclear weapons.

In our case that means, of course, the four submarines and weapons storage and support base at Faslane. MoD strategists have made no secret that it could take well over a decade to replicate these anywhere in England or Wales. Consequently, there will be no decommissioning of Coulport for those determined to guard Britain’s permanent seat on the UN Security Council post-Brexit.

To fulfil his dream of transforming the EU into not just an economic but also European superpower, Macron must lock the UK into a Franco-British partnership. There has even been speculation that the French might fund one of the four new subs on the Holy Loch to seal the deal on this unholy alliance.

A senior French source told Politico: “It’s really important to have the British on board, not just because they have the most capable, rapidly deployable armed forces along with our own, but also because we share the same strategic culture and history of projecting force outside Europe.”

Such ‘projection’ is more accurately termed liberal imperialism or neo-colonialism. Just last month, Macron signalled France’s determination to step up its interference in the Middle East and its former colonies in North Africa. The French are even funding paramilitaries in the latter region.

While this is being done ostensibly to counter the threat of Islamic terrorism, it is primarily to exert military force and manage the exodus of refugees and asylum seekers from the chaos and carnage across the Mediterranean. Last summer, Macron swung behind Italy’s vision of a Fortress Europe to staunch the flow of economic migrants across this narrow stretch of sea. Whatever the current tensions between Paris and Rome, the French President is sure to triumph in his bid to transfer more power from member states to Brussels.

History in all parts of the world has repeatedly demonstrated that there is nothing so effective as a perceived external threat to unite a previously diverse and disparate population. Europeans have proven themselves time and time again to be anything but immune to that virus, as tragically witnessed in the first half of the twentieth century.

It is “less and less logical”, observed the French strategic expert Pascal Boniface about the EU in 2000, “for an economic, commercial, technological power…to remain a minor power on the strategic plane. It is a historical incongruity.”

It may have taken almost a full two decades for a French president to passionately omit to ending that incongruity, but none of us should be in any doubt: Emmanuel Macron is totally determined to do so.

Alyn Smith’s chers collègues can never in a month of dimanches deliver the “internationalist, cooperative, ecological, fair, European” country in which he professes so passionately to believe. The European Parliament is not – and never has been – where real power lies within the EU.

It’s time to wake up and smell le café. Europe’s supposed saviour is hell-bent on building a European superstate bristling with nuclear weaponry and a menacing geopolitical masterplan.

When it finally dawns on SNP members – and the wider independence movement – that Nicola Sturgeon is seeking to purchase a “phased return” ticket to Fortress Europe, there will be fury not just at the Glasgow Central ticket office. A rallying cry will reverberate across our endangered land: Vive L’Écosse Libre!

Comments (19)

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  1. JimE says:

    Allan Smyth MEP also chose to ignore international laws when voting on Venezuela and supporting the self appointed ’round robin assembly’ chair.

  2. florian albert says:

    Rob Brown – in his interesting article – writes that Macron ‘is sure to triumph in his bid to transfer more power from member states to Brussels.’

    I doubt that this is what Macron has in mind. He wants a return to the EU as it existed when it started in the mid-50s; ie an organization run by the French and Germans in tandem, with former providing the brains and the latter the money. Brussels with real power is the last thing that Macron wants.
    There are a number of reasons why most of what Macron wants will remain in his dreams. Germany, whose economy has raced ahead of the French, will not go back to playing second fiddle to the Elysee and paying for the privilege. Germany’s present impotence is a function of having a Chancellor who has stopped ruling but failed to leave. That will not last. More important, Germany is now – a century too late – neo-pacifist. It will not support a resurgence of Bonapartism.
    Macron will do well to end his term in office with his dignity intact. His immediate predecessors both failed to achieve this.

    1. Rob Brown says:

      It is surely significant that when Macron walked through the Louvre esplanade the night he swept to power, the anthem blasted out to his jubilant supporters wasn’t La Marseillaise but Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, the official anthem of the European Union. That was certainly viewed as highly significant by those of his cimpatriots who took to Twitter to lambast it, forcing their new president to sing the French anthem with the crowd with fervour at the end of his victory speech.
      Macron might seem to have lost his magic in the last few months because of the disorder generated by the gilets jaunes but I wouldn’t underestimate his powers of seduction. His astonishing charisma and strategic genius were demonstrated by how he came from nowhere to triumph after founding his own party En Marche. He’s got until 2022 to restore his popularity. If a week is a long time in politics, three years is an eternity.
      Don’t forget what got Thatcher her second term in office – the Falklands War. The French are every bit as prone to militarism and xenophobia as the British.
      Even post-Brexit, these neighbouring neo-imperial states will have no difficulty forging a Franco-British military alliance. Germany, an economic giant but military pygmy, won’t get in the way of that.
      Most crucial to Scotland, this London-Paris axis will do everything in its considerable power to torpedo any attempt to get rid of Trident. Yet this nouveau alliance seems not to have registered at all so far on the Scottish political radar screen.
      My article is my own small attempt to try to trigger a national conversation centred on geopolitics, so I appreciate all responses to it – even from those of you who don’t share my analysis!

      1. florian albert says:

        Macron’s ‘astonishing charisma and strategic genius’

        Why did someone of his ‘astonishing charisma’ get 24% in the first round of the presidential election, only a few points more than le Pen and Fillon ?
        How did a ‘strategic genius’ fail to anticipate the level and depth of anger his reforms would generate ?
        Macron is a lucky opportunist. (I appreciate that luck matters.) A large proportion of French voters see him as part of an elite which has long since passed its sell-by date and which exists to enrich itself rather than govern in the interests of the French people as a whole.

        A London-Paris axis is a non-starter because neither side trusts the other sufficiently for it to work. For the French, Mers el Kebir is a very recent memory. Even if such an alliance could be constructed, what would it do ? Any future threat to the security of Western Europe is likely to start in Eastern or South Eastern Europe.
        Neither UK nor France is remotely capable of military intervention there.

  3. Graeme Purves says:

    This is just tiresome. Emmanuel Macron was only ever a persuasive Napoleon within the confines of Brigitte’s literature class. He’s a pretentious footnote in history.

  4. gordon purvis says:

    Like the author writes – under the line, its good to have this debate in Scotland – I appreciate very much to have put out this piece.

    I don’t share the analysis of Macron, who is weakened, by the way. I cannot really see how a French President presides over a huge transfers to EU competencies from the Member States. Anyone who works in the EU, and especially the Commission, will tell you that the direction of traffic has been in the other direction for some time.

    Both the EU and NATO are imperfect beasts we know that, but what is the alternative? Let’s not just talk military, lets talk trade and culture too. What responses do we have in Scottish or EU relations with Russia, China, Turkey. How do we manage the challenges from modern migration?

    Scotland standing alone, ourselves alone? Maybe we can join up with little England.

    1. Rob Brown says:

      Nine EU member states agreed in June last year to establish a European military force for rapid deployment in times of crisis, an initiative which has won the backing of May’s embattled government as it seeks to maintain defence ties after Brexit.
      Ministers from Britain, France, Germany, Belgium, Britain, Denmark, the Netherlands, Estonia, Spain and Portugal signed a letter of intent in Luxembourg, creating what has been called Macron’s coalition of the willing.
      Italy reserved its position but is expected to sign up soon – not least because the head of the EU Foreign and Security Policy for the last few years has been an Italian, Federica Mogherini, and she has conducted a crusade for the EU to respond forcefully to a changing geopolitical landscape and pressing migration and security challenges. (Just watch the documentary in which she stars called Europe At Sea, available on Amazon Prime).
      Further strains in the Western alliance have since been caused by Trump’s decision to rip up a non-proliferation treaty on intermediate nuclear forces with Russia after claiming that Russia was in material breach of the concordat.
      In total contrast, Emmanuel Macron told French radio station Europe 1: “I want to build a real security dialogue with Russia, which is a country I respect, a European country – but we must have a Europe that can defend itself on its own without relying only on the United States.”
      This was followed by a near-identical statement the following week by Chancellor Merkel, who said that “the times when we could rely on others are over.”
      European Commission (EC) president Jean-Claude Juncker has, to quote a Reuters report, “long been a vocal supporter of the idea that the European Union should have more common defence capability, separate from the US-dominated Nato military alliance”.
      You might choose to mock Ireland’s traditional approach of “ourselves alone” but Ireland would not be alone if a truly independent Scotland joined its nearest overseas neighbour in an arc of neutrality stretching up to Sweden and Finland plus, who knows, maybe Norway as well if NATO does disintegrate.
      As the best-selling Norwegian author Jo Nesbø has stated: “I think the feeling we are secure and things can’t really change is an illusion. That is the scary bit, because things can change very fast.”
      They are already changing very fast for Scotland as the Franco-British military alliance takes shape – something no responder to my article so far has engaged with as if this Paris-London axis won’t matter if Scotland is on the verge of separating from England but wants to ditch Trident and regain EU membership.
      As I said, wake up and smell le café, mes amis!

      1. gordon purvis says:

        I guess the article is ultimately saying that it comes down to there may be a closer continuing military relationship between France and UK/UK without Scotland and the implications are that France might stand in the way of Scottish entry into EU or other international bodies.

        Thanks this is a good and important debate.

        But what does it come down to? Yes, NATO is changing since with President Trump (for at least the next 5 years) the USA will be increasing isolationist and even lose interest in NATO. Then in parallel, the EU is seeking to reinforce its cooperation and military aspects – its hardly surprising that they are going to do that. But does that represent in itself a threat to Scotland? Yes, there is unknown territory ahead in terms of NATO and the EU. There may be troubles ahead, but what do we do then? How do we interact with Russia, and Turkey for that matter? There are no easy answers.

        All due respect to Jo Nesbø things can and do change I think we already know that. We have got to deal with that. Things are already changing and have over the last 25 years, so we have to be ready to deal with that and be ready to reach out and interact with our partners. No mocking of Ireland there, no way, just asking a genuine question since signing the Partnership for Peace with NATO is Ireland truly neutral? And if not, what of it? Indeed, that neutrality was always nuanced, as is Finland’s and indeed Sweden’s – both also involved in said Partnership. Norway instead surely cannot be expected to go neutral anytime soon. Equally, Montenegro and particularly North Macedonia will be hoping NATO’s end is not going to happen anytime soon.

        What kind of international Scotland do we want, which kind of international Scotland can we have? Surely we have to engage with the institutions as they are and not exactly as we would like them to be. And again, if we stand alone with whom will we stand?

        1. Rob Brown says:

          I appreciate your very profound and probing responses, Gordon, which have given me much to ponder as I develop my geopolitical analysis from a Scottish perspective – what I would expect from the author of War Is Coming (assuming that’s you?!) Although not a Marxist, I believe old Karl was spot on when he said we make their own history but not in circumstances of our own choosing. I guess that’s what we’re both saying in our own ways. But we do need to try to be one step ahead of changing circumstances, which is why it’s fantastic that Bella is providing a forum for these sort of debates. One final point, I am fully aware of Ireland’s participation in the PfP but I don’t think there is any hidden agenda to abandon neutrality, not least because the four main political parties – Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Sinn Fein and Labour – all continue to profess a strong belief in it.

          1. gordon purvis says:

            Thanks, no I’m not the author of this book.

            Let’s keep on talking on these issues, indeed good on Bella to have these discussions.

  5. JohnMac says:

    So base a manifesto on the assumption that the “European superstate” will collpase NATO and Britian will enter in an alliance with France instead? That is unionist grade madness. Like when they said Putin will invade if Scotland became independent.

    1. Rob Brown says:

      John, I’ve not suggested anything so absurd or apocalyptic as Putin invading Scotland if we become independent. What I am saying is that we won’t be able to stay in NATO (if it continues to exist) and/or negotiate our way back into the EU if we remain serious about closing down Coulport – which I think we should be. Without control over our own defence and foreign policy – or our fishing grounds, for that matter – we might as well spare ourselves all the upheaval of separation and settle for Devo Max. Again, not something I would ever advocate.

      1. JohnMac says:

        On that aspect, I really dont see on what grounds NATO would oppose Scottish membership. If NATO suggested the only way we could get membership was giving up sovereign territory to another member for free, it would be rejected by any sensible person.

        The idea the EU would force Scotland to give up territory to a non-member state (or member state) is even more fanciful. I dont think there is any precedent whereby an EU country was forced to host a foreign military base, and certainly not a precondition for entry. In fact, it would probably be more difficult to host Coulport and join the EU, since there have been cases where non-EU military base closures were a prerequisite for membership.

        The argument for Scotland keeping Coulport is and always will be economic, and if Westminster pay enough, they can use it. Ukraine had a similar deal with Russia over Sevastopol, and that was a considerable sum of money for the lease.

  6. Redgauntlet says:

    More sensationalist, tabloid flavoured nonsense from the indefatigable Rob Brown.The following sentence:…

    “It’s time to wake up and smell le café. Europe’s supposed saviour is hell-bent on building a European superstate bristling with nuclear weaponry and a menacing geopolitical masterplan…”

    …is possibly the most ridiculous line I have ever read on Bella Caledonia.

    PS: Rob, in case you didn’t know, every one of the EU member States has a veto….

  7. Redgauntlet says:

    PPS: There is nothing new about the idea of a European rapid deployment force to be used in crises situations, on peace-keeping missions, or to deal with an emergency – for example, a refugee crisis. That notion has been mooted for at least 20 or 30 years at the EU level and has generally been looked on favourably in principle.

    But European leaders have never had the conviction to push for it, because it won’t fly back at home with their voters. Most Europeans show no signs of desiring to live in this mythical “European Superstate” which sells so many papers in the UK and is never even mentioned in the press in Europe, because it could only ever happen if Europeans want it to happen.

    The fact is that the EU project hit the wall when the Constitution was voted down in two or three European countries back in 2009. It could not be ratified, and so a watered down version, the Lisbon Treaty, was finally approved.

    That moment saw the momentum decisively shift away from the EU, which has been on the backfoot ever since. All the evidence and informed comment on the EU over the last few years has emphasised how the EU is in danger of falling apart thanks to Brexit among other things.

    Only Rob Brown – and paranoid delusional Brexiters like him – seem to believe that the EU is about to get much stronger rather than much weaker…

    1. Redgauntlet says:

      PPS: At the most primitive level, if Brexit happens – and it might not happen because Brexiters are so clueless, inept, paranoid and irrational – then the EU loses about 10% of its budget which is roughly what Britain contributed. Brexit is very bad news for the EU for that reason alone, also because it sets a precedent for fanatical right-wing nuts in other corners of Europe.

      To argue as Rob does here that some overarching geo-political plan is underway which would see France and the UK join forces – two powers who have always had their rifts over the years, more than most – sounds to my ears like some drug induced delirium.

      What did May and Marron talk about in their rendezvous? Well, Brexit is the most likely answer. The Brexiters strategy from day one has been to split the EU block into individual countries. May was probably trying to bend Macron’s ear to put pressure on Merkel and most especially Ireland on concessions on the Backstop.

      But the Brexiters don’t have a strategy beyond splitting the EU and that strategy has totally failed…

      Britain has six weeks to go, and absolutely nothing in the locker…

      1. Rob Brown says:

        Not just one but three counterblasts in rapid succession – that’s a mighty impressive polemical weapon system you’ve got there, redgauntlet. I think I made it abundantly clear at the beginning of my article that I’m not a Brexiteer. Now, if you were to describe me as a Scexiteer, your aim might be slightly more accurate. But you would still miss the target by a long margin because my passion for bringing back control of Scotland’s destiny to Scotland would certainly not be based on any post-imperial delusions of grandeur or a vision of Scotland as a Singapore without the sun.
        After wrestling with the matter for some time, and living for a number of years in Ireland, I have come to believe that Independence in Europe is an oxymoron – as the original architect of that policy (Jim Sillars) himself came to recognise.
        As for Scotland negotiating separate entry to that entity, negotiations wouldn’t even commence in earnest until we’d ceded common access to our fishing grounds again. (Fun to see the SNP explain that up in Peterhead or Fraserburgh.)
        You evidently don’t like my style of writing – unless I write something you agree with – so let me quote some passages from an article posted by Deutsche Welle (the international broadcaster funded by the German federal tax budget):
        “After the end of the European Defense Community (EDC) in 1954, plans for a European army were put on the back burner for decades, until recent events revived the idea. US President Donald Trump’s lack of interest in Europe, the increased threat posed by Russia and the UK’s looming withdrawal from the EU have given the military project new impetus…
        “The first major step was late last year (2017), when 25 EU member states agreed to the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) on the integration of national militaries into an EU force. This cooperation strives for joint armaments projects and a closer cooperation between the armed forces themselves. Going by the wishes of EU defense ministers, PESCO could set the groundwork for a European military. At the same time, the willingness to cooperate is on the rise at the bilateral level…
        This is the first time that German and Dutch units have integrated forces from the company to the divisional level, similar to the kind of integration envisioned by ECG planners in 1950s. German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen called it a “prime example of how to build a European defense union.”…
        The motivation for increased military integration extends beyond strengthening political ties. EU countries want to save costs and share access to military capabilities other states may lack….
        Regardless of the motivations, EU countries are increasingly recognizing the need to accelerate closer military cooperation within the bloc.”
        Here’s the link:
        https://m.dw.com/en/changing-europe-revives-interest
        I also suggest you watch the documentary Europe At Sea (available on Amazon Prime Video) to see how much impetus now lies behind the call for effective co-ordination of military forces across the continent.
        Now, it could be that a majority of Scots will happily surrender to being part of the envisaged “true European army” especially if we can keep some brave Scots regiments in thr mix – Scotland can boast a martial record second to none, after all – or perhaps they can be persuaded to reflect upon where that posture has got us to in the past and where it might lead in the future?

        1. Redgauntlet says:

          Nothing personal, Rob Brown, just disagree with your interpretation of a European Defence Force as something to be worried about, or the designs you attribute to it and Macron( whom I have no time for by the way). The Europeans don’t want to attack anyone, they just want a reliable defence. It makes sense.

          Would you rather Europe was defended by the US? I would rather we Europeans defended our own continent. The Americans can’t stay in Europe for ever.

          Losing the UK is a big blow for the EU, most especially of all in terms of defence. The British Army has the reputation as the best in the world. I don’t know if it is or not, but it has a lot of experience, that’s for sure. Unfortunately for the Iraqis, Afghans etc…

          As for Scotland, I’m a Europhile. I think Scotland should be in the EU. You give up some sovereignty, but you gain a lot of other things. The EU backing Ireland and The Good Friday Agreement against all that May and the Tories can throw at them is a good example of that. It’s a trade-off. Who knows what tensions might emerge between a European Scotland and Brexit England? Nobody knows the future.

          But for the first time in over two years, I’m beginning to seriously think Brexit might not happen. With 6 weeks to go, it comes down to No Deal or Remain, May’s deal is dead in the water and there is no time or a majority for anything else. If that is the choice, Remain can only win, surely? If it goes back to the people that is…

          If that were to happen, and, if Trump is impeached or just loses the next election, just maybe the tide might begin to turn back away from the far-right and this dreadful moment in history come to an end.

          Will the neo-liberals learn the lesson from the carnage their selfish policies have caused? Will they finally understand that relying on the market for everything and removing workers rights and making their jobs precarious, their homes too expensive to buy or rent, generates huge social instability which ultimately undoes most of the benefits that unfettered capitalism brings? How much has Brexit cost the UK economy already? Billions.

          If the Tories hadn’t cut public spending for the last ten years, Brexit would never have happened… austerity is one of the main causes of Brexit…

          1. Rob Brown says:

            All good points Redgauntlet. One other possibility is that the US might scupper Trident renewal if it is to become a key element of a European military alliance rather than NATO. An independent cross-party Trident Commission reported that Britain’s supposedly independent deterrent has always been “a hostage to American goodwill.”
            It’s report stated: “The UK is dependent on the United States for many component parts of the guidance and re-entry vehicle, and for the Trident ballistic missile system itself…If the United States were to withdraw their cooperation completely, the UK nuclear capability would probably have a life expectancy measured in months rather than years.”
            While I wouldn’t want an independent Scotland permanently aligned with Washington, or anywhere else, the Americans could turn out to be powerful allies in ridding us of Trident.

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