Common Security and Defence Policy

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons on 18th February 2019.

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Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (International Trade), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union)

What recent assessment he has made of the potential effect on UK defence capability of ending co-operation on the common security and defence policy.

Photo of Gavin Williamson Gavin Williamson The Secretary of State for Defence

Europe’s security is our security. Co-operation with our European partners and allies through NATO, bilaterally and through a security partnership with the EU will enable us to address shared threats and defend our shared values.

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (International Trade), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union)

May I also pay tribute to Paul Flynn? I suspect that he was less surprised than I was when I had to read out the words to suspend him from the House of Commons after he had accused a Secretary of State—the then Secretary of State for Defence, as it happens—of lying. On the subject of the European Union, the Secretary of State will know that the “National Security Capability Review” stated:

“As we leave the EU, we want a partnership that offers both the EU and the UK the means to combine efforts to the greatest effect, both operationally, and in developing capabilities.”

By what means will we achieve this partnership once we have left the common security and defence policy?

Photo of Gavin Williamson Gavin Williamson The Secretary of State for Defence

What we set out in our negotiations with the European Union is the opportunity for Britain to opt into various programmes if it is in our national interest to do so. But it still keeps coming down to the most important point: what delivers our security in Europe is not the European Union; it is NATO. It is that framework that will continue to deliver that security.