hms iron duke

hms iron duke

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Brexit and the Shifting Pillars of the Alliance

Alphen, Netherlands. 21 November.  It is my honour to announce the publication by the Canadian Global Affairs Institute of my latest paper Brexit and the Shifting Pillars of the Alliance. The paper can be downloaded at:


Will Britain’s departure from the EU lead to the creation of an Anglosphere and a Eurosphere within NATO? Unfortunately, there are a range of challenges to such a formulation. First, if the EU continues to drive a hard post-Brexit relationship with the British, it may be increasingly difficult for any government in London to convince the British people that other Europeans are worth defending. Second, would the United States, Canada and others entertain such an idea? Third, France is not going to abandon its strategic relationship with Britain – Brexit or no Brexit. Fourth, there will be a Brexit deal and Britain will remain a key factor in European defence. Fifth, “events, dear boy, events!” However, Brexit or no Brexit, NATO’s pillars are shifting. The United States will demand more of its allies if Washington is to maintain a credible security and defence guarantee for Europe. The changing nature of conflict will tend to emphasise intelligence and power projection, both of which play to Britain’s residual strengths. 

Canada? It is hard for an outsider to discern Canadian defence policy, other than bumbling along in strategic suburbia with the desire to be seen as the good neighbour. This is a mistake. NATO’s shifting pillars will have profound implications for Canadian security and defence policy. A formal Anglosphere and Eurosphere within NATO? Most likely not. A U.S.-sphere and German-sphere? Quite possibly, but don’t mention it in polite company. Canada? Who knows?

Julian Lindley-French

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