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EU Withdrawal

Volume 602: debated on Monday 23 November 2015

13. What assessment he has made of the potential effect of UK withdrawal from the EU on defence and national security. (902269)

This Government believe we can, and indeed will, succeed in reforming and renegotiating our relationship with the EU. The cornerstone of our security is NATO, but the EU plays an important role complementing NATO, for example recently in imposing sanctions on Russia. Defence remains a sovereign issue.

The UK, together with other EU partners, has worked hard in areas—such as in Mali on EU training missions—which have made a significant contribution to defence. Will the Government give close consideration to how such missions would continue if Britain were to withdraw from the EU?

I can only repeat my earlier answer. We are confident that the renegotiation will succeed. The hon. Gentleman is right to say that the mission to which he refers, and others including the anti-piracy mission off the horn of Africa, have been a success.

If this county were to vote to come out of the EU, would not the Minister welcome the tremendous advantage of that to the armed forces? The UK sends £350 million to the EU each week, and some of that money could be diverted to the armed forces. Would that not be a good thing?

My hon. Friend is not going to tempt me into speculating about what might happen after a withdrawal. I will say, however, that I am delighted to be part of a Government who are committed to spending 2% of GDP on defence, and I think that he is going to enjoy the announcement at 3.30 pm.