How Will the UK’s Exit from the EU Affect U.S. Defense?


By Debbie Gregory.

With Britain voting to leave the European Union (EU), many in the defense sector are wondering how the decision will affect the U.S.

Pro-defense Prime Minister David Cameron announced his decision to resign after voters rejected his pleas for the UK to remain a member of the 28 nation EU.

The EU was founded as an economic organization to create a common European market, in the decades since it has taken up additional missions in the social and security arenas, such as participating in peacekeeping and anti-piracy missions.

The exit decision has opened up the possibility that the pro-European Scottish government will seek to call another referendum on whether the country should break away from the union with the rest of the UK. A breakaway by Scotland would have a profound effect on military capabilities; Britain would lose its only nuclear submarine base, located at Faslane, Scotland.

U.S. leaders will surely continue to seek to sustain a close special relationship with the U.K. in the security and defense arena. Close cooperation on intelligence, nuclear issues, special forces and critical overseas counterterrorism operations and other issues is certain to continue.

With that said, Brexit could decrease American influence over its non-British allies in Europe.

Many U.S. officials believe that having the UK, one of America’s closest partners, has helped align the European Union more directly with U.S. foreign policy objectives, such as the EU participating in the upcoming NATO summit in Warsaw.

When asked if Brexit would weaken NATO, Secretary of State John Kerry responded, “No, I think it will strengthen NATO.”

The U.S. and Putin have publicly said they do not expect Brexit to affect existing sanctions, which include asset freezes and travel bans on certain officials. Britain, along with the nations of Eastern Europe, has been among the strongest voices to keep the sanctions in place.

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