Skip to main content

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions

Traditional British soldier

The British Threat to UK Security

British Prime Minister David Cameron has finally begun making the most compelling argument for his country's continued EU membership: security. If it turns out to be too late to convince British voters to choose the EU in a planned referendum on the issue, Cameron will likely be regarded as his generation's Neville Chamberlain.

WARSAW – British Prime Minister David Cameron has lately begun to speak out about the importance of European Union membership for the United Kingdom’s security. That is probably the most compelling argument for remaining in the EU that Cameron could present to British voters ahead of a referendum on whether the UK should withdraw. But is Cameron, who has promised to hold the vote by the end of 2017, making the security argument too late in the day?

Many claim that, because NATO ensures the UK’s defense, a British exit from the EU (“Brexit”) would not undermine the country’s security. But security and defense are not the same thing. True security entails the expectation that a country will not have to call upon the defense alliances to which it belongs – and that is what membership in the EU, as it stands today, provides.

Between World Wars I and II, America’s defense did not depend on its membership of the League of Nations. But the country’s decision not to join the League of Nations – based on sovereignty arguments much like those now being used to promote Brexit – led to the League’s collapse, severely weakening US security.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.


Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.;
  1. op_twliu1_XinhuaXiao Yijiu via Getty Images_wuhancoronavirushospitaldoctor Xinhua/Xiao Yijiu via Getty Images
    Free to read

    Witnessing Wuhan

    Tracy Wen Liu

    While Chinese authorities have been projecting an image of national triumph over the COVID-19 outbreak there, the doctors and nurses on the front lines tell a different story. Having lived through hell, they see little to celebrate, much to mourn, and reason to remain fearful.


Edit Newsletter Preferences