Blog: Why the EU is suddenly marching to a different drumbeat on defence 16/09/16

Now that the most militarily capable member state is on the way out of the European Union there have been proposals for greater defence collaboration between the countries that remain.

Without Britain, the EU is left with substantially degraded defence capacities. As they meet in Bratislava to discuss life after Brexit, EU leaders have taken the bold but risky move to draw attention to the EU’s continuing ability to deepen integration.

It is risky because, despite being a central commitment in the Maastricht Treaty, the EU has only made modest progress towards establishing a shared defence and security policy. Member states disagree on how much they should merge their military capabilities and have made slow progress towards their Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). This has so far progressed via a series of civilian and military conflict management missions.

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Blog: Boris should look to Canada for his Brexit blueprint 24/08/16

The summer holiday has provided Boris Johnson with a period for reflection on how he will tackle a challenge greater than that faced by any of his foreign secretary predecessors since the end of the Second World War. Pre-referendum predications from many of the UK’s international allies that Brexit could precipitate greater international insecurity and diminish the international standing of the country will now be tested.

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Policy Paper: The UK’s foreign and security policy: What’s at stake in the referendum? Egmont May 2016

Professor Whitman has prepared a policy brief on the UK’s security foreign policy and the EU referendum for Egmont, Royal Institute for International Relations.


Foreign and security policy was not an area in which Prime Minister Cameron sought to alter the relationship between the UK and the European Union (EU) in renegotiating the terms of Britain’s membership. However, security has become a key theme in the referendum debate. The airport and metro bombings in Brussels have focused particular attention on the issue of border and ‘homeland’ security, and whether the UK has its security enhanced, or compromised, through its membership of the EU. There are also broader questions about the EU’s historic role in bringing peace to the European continent and its capacity to be a capable security and defence actor. These were raised by David Cameron in what was the most passionate speech on Europe of his Premiership delivered on 9th May.

Full paper available available at: The UK’s foreign and security policy: what’s at stake in the referendum?.

Interview: Scotland after Brexit. Council on Foreign Relations. 09/08/2016

As a result of the Brexit vote to leave the European Union, the United Kingdom is likely to see another Scottish independence referendum in its future, says Chatham House’s Richard G. Whitman. Scotland, which voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, is now openly considering the viability of an independent state with separate EU membership, raising questions about the future of both Scottish and English nationalism. Despite its quest for self-governance, “Scotland’s path into the future, possibility for independence, and relationship with the EU is paradoxically tied up with the rest of the United Kingdom even if it would like to pursue a separate path,” says Whitman.

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Commentary: European Policy Centre: Soft or hard Brexit? 15/07/2016

Professor Whitman has published a commentary piece for the European Policy Centre on negotiating the UK’s departure from the EU. The full piece is available here.


The EU is in uncharted waters when it comes to negotiating the UK’s exit from the Union. Creative and flexible thinking will be required from all parties if an orderly departure is to be managed. The alternative is a fractious, mutually damaging and disorderly Brexit. This commentary argues for a short-term, time-limited agreement to stabilise the EU-UK relationship and to allow breathing space to develop the terms of a long-term strategic partnership.

At present much attention has been given to the modalities and timetable for invoking Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. There is no certainty as to when the UK government will invoke the article; nor is there an accompanying ‘user guide’ on how to realise an orderly disentangling of a member state from the EU. The UK’s current political turmoil hampers the chances for an orderly exit.

What the country needs, but what seems to be currently impossible, is to rapidly establish cross-political party agreement on what form of future relationship it wants to have with the EU. The post-Referendum leadership hiatus in the UK has worked against this imperative, and the ‘dis-United Kingdom’ further complicates and threatens a consensus. The Scottish National Party, Gibraltese, and Northern Ireland politicians have all made clear their desire to preserve a place for their territories within the EU. As things stand now, a serious cross-party debate on the UK’s desired relationship with the EU will not start until, after the leadership of the Labour Party has been (re)confirmed and can debate with the UK’s new Prime Minister Theresa May.