A former French prime minister and a previous British head of Nato say that France and the UK have to overcome the risks of Brexit and urgently deepen their military alliance to hedge against the unpredictability of Donald Trump’s White House.
In a report from a taskforce led by Bernard Cazeneuve, France’s prime minister from 2016 to 2017, and George Robertson, a former Labour defence secretary and secretary general of Nato, it is claimed the two countries’ relationship has never been more fragile.
The failure of the UK government to hedge against the dollar ahead of the Brexit referendum, and the subsequent devaluation of sterling, is said to have left a gaping hole in the British defence budget, which has undermined a joint attempt to develop unmanned combat aircraft.
The dispute over the UK’s post-Brexit involvement in Galileo, the EU’s global satellite navigation system, is said to have “emerged as a fault line in the negotiations for the country’s withdrawal from the bloc”, indicative of the breakdown in key joint structures.
At a time when US #foreign policy has never been more unpredictable, it is said to be vital to overcome the problems facing the alliance. The alliance was strengthened by a treaty in 2010 through the establishment of the joint expeditionary forces used in Libya but now, it is claimed, it needs updating and upgrading.
The US president, who is likely to be constrained with his domestic agenda following the US midterm elections in which Democrats gained control over the House of Representatives, is expected to turn to foreign policy to make a mark – an area in which he has already built a doubtful reputation.
The report calls for French and British intelligence agencies to work together on a greater scale, for military facilities to be shared, and for concessions to be made in the Brexit talks between the UK and Brussels to bring the two allies closer together.
Lord Robertson, who led Nato from 1999 to 2004, said: “I think that the Trump administration has underscored the need for Europe to do more in its own interests and the [midterm election] result doesn’t do anything but underscore the fact that there is an unpredictability about American foreign policy which should drive Europe to do more in its own interests.