Post-Brexit Britain's Military Strategy

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2021-65-2-37-44
D. Shikhov (, 
Center of International Studies, Strategic Initiatives, Inc., 50 Azina Str., Kirov, 610027, Russian Federation, 
Vyatka State University, 36 Moskovskaya Str., Kirov, 610000, Russian Federation

Abstract. Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union raises questions on how UK defence policy will develop. Significant shifts inside the United Kingdom as well as its changing position in the international arena caused by Brexit require new approaches in its military strategy. National Security Strategy 2015 and UK’s International Defence Engagement Strategy 2017 do not fully reflect current geopolitical realities while new strategic documents haven’t been presented so far. UK armed forces modernization is becoming even more relevant, however there are few signs that London has capabilities to increase its defence budget. The latest statistics shows stable decline in UK military expenditure as percentage of GDP. The armed forces have been shrinking in size for several decades and some large modernization projects have come across considerable difficulties. After years of heated debates an ambitious plan to replace all four ballistic missile submarines with the new ones has been approved. However Brexit caused another wave of claims for Scottish independence raising concerns over the future of the Britain’s only Scotland-based naval facility for nuclear forces. Brexit inevitably poses a dilemma of setting UK’s foreign and defence policy priorities. Though leaving the EU doesn’t mean that Britain will fully withdraw from European defence and security initiatives, active cooperation in this sphere between London and Brussels is highly unlikely. Given that, the importance of NATO as well as other multilateral security mechanisms (especially the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force with Scandinavian and Baltic states) and bilateral defence cooperation (particularly with the US and France) is significantly increasing. Despite numerous challenges for British defence and security policy caused by Brexit these difficulties together with the UK’s traditional strong points such as the special relationship with the US and network of military facilities around the globe may give impetus to a more proactive military strategy aimed at strengthening UK’s global influence. 

Keywords: United Kingdom, Brexit, military strategy, defence, security


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For citation:
Shikhov D. Post-Brexit Britain's Military Strategy. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2021, vol. 65, no. 2, pp. 37-44.

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