The European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, has said the EU wants the UK’s continued cooperation on security, regardless of the deal struck on other issues.
Speaking at a press conference in Strasbourg he said:
“It’s not, oh, if you give us a good deal on the one we offer you cooperation on internal external security. For us, it’s absolutely key that there is a close relationship on these issues.”
Defence not a bargaining chip
When she triggered article 50 earlier this year, Theresa May had appeared to threaten defence links if the UK’s trade demands weren’t met.
However, when he launched the UK government’s sixth Brexit position paper, the UK Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, insisted his country’s offer of ongoing military support wasn’t intended to “blackmail” the EU into giving the UK everything it wanted on trade.
“No it’s not a negotiating tactic, it’s too important for that. We want to be very clear that the day after we leave we continue to work together with the other European countries on security, fighting terrorism”.
Not popular with everyone
The Defence Secretary’s remarks are unlikely to placate eurosceptics at home, who have always worried about the slide towards an EU army. The government needs to think about support from within the UK as it begins its battle to get the first major piece of Brexit legislation through parliament.