One of the points of discussion which dominated British politics in the Brexit era was the possibility of the formation of an ‘EU army’. During the referendum campaign and for years afterwards, Remainers and ‘People’s Vote’ campaigners repeatedly claimed that there was no serious chance of establishing an EU army because the upper echelons of the Commission had no interest in the idea – despite top Eurocrats being so open about their goals.
But now the fall of Afghanistan and the sudden realisation of Europe's dependancy on America has brought the issue to the fore once again. On Thursday EU foreign affairs representative Josep Borrell announced that the withdrawal will ‘catalyse’ the EU to establish its own army, comments which follow in the wake of similar remarks by Ursula von der Leyen prior to her taking up the presidency of the European Commission.
With such winds of change blowing through the continent's defence ministries, Mr Steerpike thought it would be a good idea to list seven times Remainers dismissed the possibility of the creation of an EU army…
Jonathan Lis, 2019
Writing in the Guardian in January 2019, the former deputy direct of pro-Remain group British Influence listed a ‘series of myths’ he claimed the Brexit campaign was based on: £350m for the NHS, Turkey potentially joining the EU, and ‘an easy deal that would keep us in the single market and take us out of it at the same time’. Declaring that those lies ‘were long ago extinguished’, he then claimed that ‘the threat of an EU army’, was the ‘one unslayable old canard’ that remained.
Emily Thornberry, 2016
In a pre-referendum speech in June 2016, the ardent Islington Europhile claimed that stating ‘Brussels bureaucrats’ were trying to ‘build up a continental army as part of their emerging superstate’ is ‘as true as saying that Elvis lives’.
Charles Grant, 2016
In an article for the Centre for European Reform, the organisation’s director lamented ‘a savage media’ and Leave’s ‘ruthless campaign machine’. Grant also claimed that the statement 'EU leaders are discussing the creation of a European army' is ‘completely untrue’.
Alastair Campbell, 2016
Responding to a Telegraph article in which Charles Guthrie – ex-Chief of the General Staff of the British Army – said that the possibility of a European Army was ‘more than a gleam in the eye’ of European politicians, Campbell claimed that ‘the EU Army is a myth’ and later added that it was one of Leave’s ‘biggest lies’.
Liberal Democrats, 2015
In April 2015, the Liberal Democrats’ official Twitter account stated that ‘Farage is scaremongering. There will not be an EU army’. Scaremongering? Something of which the Remain campaigns could never be accused...
Nick Clegg, 2015
Speaking on LBC in March 2015, Clegg seemed to dismiss the idea as a joke, claiming that 'it’s not going to happen' and that ''Jean-Claude Juncker and Nigel Farage are both dangerous fantasists when it comes to this issue.' Political foresight was never his thing, to be fair.