Nexit After Brexit

Britain’s vote to depart the European Union won’t have any big immediate effect on European defense, but it complicates the continent’s security picture. Look for a clearer way forward after upcoming meetings of the EU defense committee (June 28) and NATO (July 8-9). Britain’s role in NATO “will remain unchanged,” Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a Friday statement. “The UK will remain a strong and committed NATO ally, and will continue to play its leading role in our Alliance,” Stoltenberg said, adding that NATO is now “more important than ever as a platform for cooperation among European allies, and between Europe and North America.” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook reported that Defense Secretary Ash Carter had spoken with his British counterpart, Michael Fallon, and they reaffirmed the close military ties between the two countries. “Those bonds will endure,” Cook said. Stoltenberg said there would be further discussions within NATO about the way ahead during the upcoming Warsaw summit. The EU defense meeting was deliberately timed to come after the “Brexit” vote, to assess the situation. Establishment of an official EU military headquarters was on the agenda, but Britain has been resistant to the idea of a separate EU “army.” Cook declined to directly address Brexit effects on US-British defense acquisition projects like the F-35, saying only that Britain is a “key ally” on that project.