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Does Ukraine have Brexit to thank for Western support?

Streets in Ukraine were named after Boris Johnson, not Emmanuel Macron. Credit: Getty

May 15, 2023 - 11:30am

Ukraine: was it Brexit wot won it? That’s the suggestion made by Jacob Rees-Mogg in a weekend interview with Sky News:

We were able to show global leadership over Ukraine. Putin would probably have invaded Ukraine successfully if the UK had been bound in by the requirement of sincere cooperation and had to follow a Franco-German line in dealing with Russia, which is what we did in 2014.
- Jacob Rees-Mogg

Cue scorn from British Remainers: “Insulting to the heroism of the Ukrainian armed forces,” thundered Gavin Barwell. “The Brexit fantasy has no limits,” spluttered Will Hutton. “What a balloon,” guffawed Chris Daw.

It has to be said that Rees-Mogg’s case is overstated. For a start, the highest honour does indeed belong to the Ukrainian people (though I don’t think he would deny that). Next, we should thank the Russian military command for their sheer ineptitude. And, of course, there’s no ignoring the military support provided by the United States of America, which greatly exceeds that of any other nation.

It is then and only then that we can assess the European contribution — including that of the United Kingdom.

In this regard, Britain stands head and shoulders above France and Germany. When our Ministry of Defence was working round the clock to get weapons to Ukraine, the Germans were still blocking vital shipments. The French, meanwhile, were still ‘negotiating’ with Putin long after the Brits had seen through his smokescreen.

Nevertheless, to substantiate Rees-Mogg’s hypothesis we’d have to show that British leadership was what stiffened French and German backbones — and, more importantly, what ensured America’s continuing involvement. But, of course, we’ll never know what would have happened had the EU’s appeasers gone unshamed.

The other plank of the Rees-Mogg argument is that, without Brexit, Britain would have been prevented from taking the stand that it did. In particular, he argues that, stuck in the EU, we’d have been bound by the principle of “sincere cooperation”. This is a reference to Article 4 of the Treaty on European Union, which states that “pursuant to the principle of sincere cooperation, the Union and the Member States shall, in full mutual respect, assist each other in carrying out tasks which flow from the Treaties.”

This is one of those pieces of EU big-talk that simultaneously mean everything and nothing. Though it applies to the EU’s common foreign and security policy, it could not have been used to force the UK to toe the EU line — at least not without a new treaty.

However, it could have been used by a Europhile UK government as an excuse for German-style passivity. Then again, there’s no way of telling who would have been prime minister in 2022 had we voted Remain in 2016. Both Rees-Mogg and his outraged Remainer critics are arguing over a counterfactual.

So let’s concentrate on what we do know — which is that when European values came under brutal attack in Eastern Europe, the country in Western Europe that leapt to their defence was Brexit Britain. As Ukraine’s shattered cities are rebuilt, they are naming streets after Boris Johnson, not Angela Merkel, Olaf Scholz or Emmanuel Macron. 

For British Remainers this is simply too much to contemplate. They should therefore thank Jacob Rees-Mogg for providing a distraction.


Peter Franklin is Associate Editor of UnHerd. He was previously a policy advisor and speechwriter on environmental and social issues.

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Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 year ago

JRM’s assertions are far-fetched, and – just like it is in all other discussions – the Remainer response is hysterical.
The way that everything gets linked back to Brexit in British political discourse is deranged. The 2nd to last paragraph of this article really is all you need to know.
The only other thing which is missing from this article which deserved a mention is Poland’s excellent leadership within the EU since the beginning of the conflict.

Christopher Peter
Christopher Peter
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Yep. There are few more irritating phrases than “Brexit Britain”. The urge to keep squabbling over the B-word is almost pathological and a major distraction from the UK’s real issues.
Good point also about Poland, who haven’t let EU membership hold them back concerning Ukraine.

Dustin Needle
Dustin Needle
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

“The way that everything gets linked back to Brexit in British political discourse is deranged.”
Since which time we’ve had government imposed lockdown…but the media don’t like to talk about something so wrong and damaging, for which they cheerleaded so enthusiastically.
Utterly ludicrous the way previously respected commentators have to convert everything to a “fantasy political” alternative reality. One in which the country has remained frozen in a kind of pre-Brexit aspic, where “Je Suis European” and we march in comradely lockstep with Merkel and Hollande.
Ignoring the fact – and the BBC actually once did a rather good 3 part documentary on this – that even in those halcyon days the UK sought to exempt itself on issues such as bail-outs, migrants and burden sharing.
Agree with every word Katherine, doubly so on the “evil right wing” empire of Poland (again h/t to the BBC), which the EU would punish and fine to their citizens’ last zloty if it could.

Last edited 1 year ago by Dustin Needle
j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Dustin Needle

The problem is so much ‘is’ linked back to Brexit, even if just the massive ‘opportunity cost’ in time and energy with which we could have focused on other issues rather than 7 years of psycho-drama.
Brexit has much road to run yet too. TCA up for renewal in a year or so. Such things make a massive difference to economic policy and economic policy determines much else. Sorry but whether one was Leave or Remain it ain’t going away anytime soon.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

I think the reason remainers always try to beat leavers with the ‘economy’ stick is because you have no answer to the constitutional case for Brexit, which is much more important in the long term.

Dustin Needle
Dustin Needle
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

Thanks for responding. My point was that the EU may exist but the precise environment we left in 2016 doesn’t. We weren’t fully committed anyway. We cannot go back. We can only try to move forward from where we are.

My retirement job is a humble book-keeper for a company that exports to the EU. Yes, aspects of post-Brexit life – VAT, duty – with EU commerce are a pain in the backside. Those at the sharp end are doing what they always do in these circumstances, adapt – collaborate – promote and encourage opportunities to streamline and/or expand where they can. Time and energy is used finding ways to move forward.

The only institutions I see expending negative time and energy over this are ones that have access to public or international lobby group funding. And the number of those that dominate the airwaves is frightening, and – serious point here – troubling for the collective mental health of this country.

Last edited 1 year ago by Dustin Needle
j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Dustin Needle

Agree DN, we aren’t going back any time soon and the environment is different to 2016. Nonetheless the choices we made and the choices to come: re: TCA and other alignment/non alignment- will continue to affect millions of us.

Last edited 1 year ago by j watson
j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Dustin Needle

Agree DN, we aren’t going back any time soon and the environment is different to 2016. Nonetheless the choices we made and the choices to come: re: TCA and other alignment/non alignment- will continue to affect millions of us.

Last edited 1 year ago by j watson
Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

I think the reason remainers always try to beat leavers with the ‘economy’ stick is because you have no answer to the constitutional case for Brexit, which is much more important in the long term.

Dustin Needle
Dustin Needle
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

Thanks for responding. My point was that the EU may exist but the precise environment we left in 2016 doesn’t. We weren’t fully committed anyway. We cannot go back. We can only try to move forward from where we are.

My retirement job is a humble book-keeper for a company that exports to the EU. Yes, aspects of post-Brexit life – VAT, duty – with EU commerce are a pain in the backside. Those at the sharp end are doing what they always do in these circumstances, adapt – collaborate – promote and encourage opportunities to streamline and/or expand where they can. Time and energy is used finding ways to move forward.

The only institutions I see expending negative time and energy over this are ones that have access to public or international lobby group funding. And the number of those that dominate the airwaves is frightening, and – serious point here – troubling for the collective mental health of this country.

Last edited 1 year ago by Dustin Needle
j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Dustin Needle

The problem is so much ‘is’ linked back to Brexit, even if just the massive ‘opportunity cost’ in time and energy with which we could have focused on other issues rather than 7 years of psycho-drama.
Brexit has much road to run yet too. TCA up for renewal in a year or so. Such things make a massive difference to economic policy and economic policy determines much else. Sorry but whether one was Leave or Remain it ain’t going away anytime soon.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Yes, the case is over-stated. But not being bound by the EU did allow Britain to move fast and demonstrate leadership. The response to the Ukraine war has demonstrated that someone has to move first or nothing will happen – or it will all happen too slowly to matter.
Being in the EU also provides nations with convenient cover for doing nothing and ducking difficult decisions.
So, on balance I would see Brexit as having been helpful here. And a useful practical demonstration of the advantages of being able to move quickly and decisively – which for me was one of the critical advantages to being outside the EU.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Nigel Farage statement yesterday – ”Brexit has failed. We have not delivered on borders, we have not delivered on Brexit”.
Hence the scramble by likes of Mogg to try and find something but nobody is buying this Ukraine angle. Utter nonsense.
Mogg and Farage do though have one thing in common. They take no responsibility.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

Well, given that Farage has never been in government, it’s quite hard to see how he is responsible.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Indeed, and he knew that all along. More money in being a Commentator than the hard yards in making something work. Never did a proper shift when he was being paid to scrutinise legislation either, although took the expenses easy enough.
Nonetheless if you pedal a false prospectus you are as responsible as those in actual power, and he’s had plenty of ‘soft power’.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Indeed, and he knew that all along. More money in being a Commentator than the hard yards in making something work. Never did a proper shift when he was being paid to scrutinise legislation either, although took the expenses easy enough.
Nonetheless if you pedal a false prospectus you are as responsible as those in actual power, and he’s had plenty of ‘soft power’.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

Well, given that Farage has never been in government, it’s quite hard to see how he is responsible.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  Peter B

Nigel Farage statement yesterday – ”Brexit has failed. We have not delivered on borders, we have not delivered on Brexit”.
Hence the scramble by likes of Mogg to try and find something but nobody is buying this Ukraine angle. Utter nonsense.
Mogg and Farage do though have one thing in common. They take no responsibility.

Christopher Peter
Christopher Peter
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Yep. There are few more irritating phrases than “Brexit Britain”. The urge to keep squabbling over the B-word is almost pathological and a major distraction from the UK’s real issues.
Good point also about Poland, who haven’t let EU membership hold them back concerning Ukraine.

Dustin Needle
Dustin Needle
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

“The way that everything gets linked back to Brexit in British political discourse is deranged.”
Since which time we’ve had government imposed lockdown…but the media don’t like to talk about something so wrong and damaging, for which they cheerleaded so enthusiastically.
Utterly ludicrous the way previously respected commentators have to convert everything to a “fantasy political” alternative reality. One in which the country has remained frozen in a kind of pre-Brexit aspic, where “Je Suis European” and we march in comradely lockstep with Merkel and Hollande.
Ignoring the fact – and the BBC actually once did a rather good 3 part documentary on this – that even in those halcyon days the UK sought to exempt itself on issues such as bail-outs, migrants and burden sharing.
Agree with every word Katherine, doubly so on the “evil right wing” empire of Poland (again h/t to the BBC), which the EU would punish and fine to their citizens’ last zloty if it could.

Last edited 1 year ago by Dustin Needle
Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Yes, the case is over-stated. But not being bound by the EU did allow Britain to move fast and demonstrate leadership. The response to the Ukraine war has demonstrated that someone has to move first or nothing will happen – or it will all happen too slowly to matter.
Being in the EU also provides nations with convenient cover for doing nothing and ducking difficult decisions.
So, on balance I would see Brexit as having been helpful here. And a useful practical demonstration of the advantages of being able to move quickly and decisively – which for me was one of the critical advantages to being outside the EU.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
1 year ago

JRM’s assertions are far-fetched, and – just like it is in all other discussions – the Remainer response is hysterical.
The way that everything gets linked back to Brexit in British political discourse is deranged. The 2nd to last paragraph of this article really is all you need to know.
The only other thing which is missing from this article which deserved a mention is Poland’s excellent leadership within the EU since the beginning of the conflict.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
1 year ago

Mr Rees-Mogg is much cleverer than his enemies think. But not a man to court modern public opinion.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
1 year ago

Mr Rees-Mogg is much cleverer than his enemies think. But not a man to court modern public opinion.

Michael James
Michael James
1 year ago

I’ve read that the EU wants to extend majority voting to member states’ foreign and defence policies (its ultimate goal is to extend it to all policies of course). So France, Germany and Italy would arrange to impose their appeasing policies on all 27 members. I suspect Poland and the Baltic states will block the proposal.

Last edited 1 year ago by Michael James
Michael James
Michael James
1 year ago

I’ve read that the EU wants to extend majority voting to member states’ foreign and defence policies (its ultimate goal is to extend it to all policies of course). So France, Germany and Italy would arrange to impose their appeasing policies on all 27 members. I suspect Poland and the Baltic states will block the proposal.

Last edited 1 year ago by Michael James
Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
1 year ago

I would imagine that a big part of why Putin thought he could get away with invading is that he anticipated a weak and divided response from the west in general and the EU in particular. BREXIT would be one of many historical factors which could have led Putin to that erroneous assessment – there is a chicken and egg argument as to whether a failing EU led to or was caused by BREXIT, but it is the failure of the EU as a credible institution which would have been what encouraged Putin.
Britain’s role in making that assessment turn out to be erroneous is clear and Boris was a big part of that. Whether BREXIT had anything to do with it other than it was the main reason Boris was PM at the time is in my view highly doubtful.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
1 year ago

I would imagine that a big part of why Putin thought he could get away with invading is that he anticipated a weak and divided response from the west in general and the EU in particular. BREXIT would be one of many historical factors which could have led Putin to that erroneous assessment – there is a chicken and egg argument as to whether a failing EU led to or was caused by BREXIT, but it is the failure of the EU as a credible institution which would have been what encouraged Putin.
Britain’s role in making that assessment turn out to be erroneous is clear and Boris was a big part of that. Whether BREXIT had anything to do with it other than it was the main reason Boris was PM at the time is in my view highly doubtful.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago

JRM’s secondary point carries more weight than his main argument: it is conceivable that independent British diplomacy in 2014 may have led to a different outcome. However, given Cameron’s poodle posture towards US policy over Libya and elsewhere, it seems unlikely.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
1 year ago

JRM’s secondary point carries more weight than his main argument: it is conceivable that independent British diplomacy in 2014 may have led to a different outcome. However, given Cameron’s poodle posture towards US policy over Libya and elsewhere, it seems unlikely.

William Jones
William Jones
1 year ago

Jacob Rees-Mogg along with all other Western influentials should be disposed towards peace and not war. Escalating the arming of Ukraine is a certainty towards expanding the conflict – beyond control. They should be asserting the return of the Minsk Accord (whose intent was accepted by Putin) and make it workable – thereby creating what all responsible politicians should be inclined to create.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  William Jones

It has been clear for a long time that Putin is not one of those “responsible politicians” you mention and not a man who’s word can be trusted.

Last edited 1 year ago by Peter B
j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  William Jones

Quite the reverse lesson can be drawn I’d afraid. For example had Ukraine not given up it’s Nukes at the time of independence the invasion would have never happened. Deterrence works. It worked for the West against the Soviets for 50yrs and Reagan’s escalation of that deterrence helped collapse the Soviets sooner than perhaps would have happened. It works in Korea and elsewhere too.
The irony is those saying Ukraine should not have been helped to stand up for itself would have lambasted the Unilateral disarmers in the West for idiocy.
Strong deterrence = peace.

Peter B
Peter B
1 year ago
Reply to  William Jones

It has been clear for a long time that Putin is not one of those “responsible politicians” you mention and not a man who’s word can be trusted.

Last edited 1 year ago by Peter B
j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  William Jones

Quite the reverse lesson can be drawn I’d afraid. For example had Ukraine not given up it’s Nukes at the time of independence the invasion would have never happened. Deterrence works. It worked for the West against the Soviets for 50yrs and Reagan’s escalation of that deterrence helped collapse the Soviets sooner than perhaps would have happened. It works in Korea and elsewhere too.
The irony is those saying Ukraine should not have been helped to stand up for itself would have lambasted the Unilateral disarmers in the West for idiocy.
Strong deterrence = peace.

William Jones
William Jones
1 year ago

Jacob Rees-Mogg along with all other Western influentials should be disposed towards peace and not war. Escalating the arming of Ukraine is a certainty towards expanding the conflict – beyond control. They should be asserting the return of the Minsk Accord (whose intent was accepted by Putin) and make it workable – thereby creating what all responsible politicians should be inclined to create.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago

Arguably Brexit contributed towards Putin’s boldness by suggesting Europe was weak and fractured. There was a reason the FBS, and Xi’s MSS, looked to aid Leave social media.
And as regards Article 4, didn’t stop us going into Iraq or bombing ISIS, so the idea that’s a brake on Foreign policy is a nonsense.
There are issues about EU leadership that Ukrainian war has exposed with French and Germans struggling on occasions. But EU is broader than these countries with Poland, Baltic States, Spain rapidly supporting Zelensky, and then of course Finland, Sweden seeking closer NATO alignment. Meloni now v much differentiating herself from Berlusconi with her strong support too. Remarkable unified approach all things considered and sustained now for 15mths. Germany just agreed multi-billion support package on top of all the Leopards etc – almost 100 to our 22 Challengers, so a huge move in the political consensus.
However Bojo is due credit for how he quickly latched onto need to support Ukraine. As a Churchill scholar perhaps not a surprise. Whilst he deserves considerable criticism for his role in UK politics the last 10yrs on this issue he was right. He overplayed it a bit though to try and save his own bacon, but UK was united in the support regardless of PM. It was instinctive.
Perhaps Rees-Mogg needs to do another request in The Sun newspaper, as he did asking for bits of EU legislation they wanted scraped to no great result, for readers to send in examples of Brexit benefits.as he’s struggling a bit on his own isn’t he.

Last edited 1 year ago by j watson
A Spetzari
A Spetzari
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

Arguably Brexit contributed towards Putin’s boldness by suggesting Europe was weak and fractured. There was a reason the FBS, and Xi’s MSS, looked to aid Leave social media.

Perhaps, perhaps not. Conjecture at this point.

And as regards Article 4, didn’t stop us going into Iraq or bombing ISIS, so the idea that’s a brake on Foreign policy is a nonsense.

True but that was 2002/3 and 2014 respectively; some time ago now.
As the article correctly points out – much like a lot of EU policy – it could have been used to excuse British inaction. This is what Brexit removes – the tendency of politicians being able to use the EU’s policies to hide behind (or not) when it suits them.

Agreed Bojo needs some credit here, despite his many other failings. That said he was continuing policies set back in motion in 2014 by Cameron with sustained low level support at all times building up Ukraine’s capabilities.

Last edited 1 year ago by A Spetzari
j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

Yes concur with much you say AS, although the Govt’s Russia report in 2020 criticised it for deciding not to investigate Russia interference – the Govt could have dealt with the speculation by requesting an investigation as happened in the US via Congress, but chose not to ask.
But the point you make about Brexit removing the potential to use the EU as an excuse v timely given the jump in UK net immigration.

j watson
j watson
1 year ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

Yes concur with much you say AS, although the Govt’s Russia report in 2020 criticised it for deciding not to investigate Russia interference – the Govt could have dealt with the speculation by requesting an investigation as happened in the US via Congress, but chose not to ask.
But the point you make about Brexit removing the potential to use the EU as an excuse v timely given the jump in UK net immigration.

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
1 year ago
Reply to  j watson

Arguably Brexit contributed towards Putin’s boldness by suggesting Europe was weak and fractured. There was a reason the FBS, and Xi’s MSS, looked to aid Leave social media.

Perhaps, perhaps not. Conjecture at this point.

And as regards Article 4, didn’t stop us going into Iraq or bombing ISIS, so the idea that’s a brake on Foreign policy is a nonsense.

True but that was 2002/3 and 2014 respectively; some time ago now.
As the article correctly points out – much like a lot of EU policy – it could have been used to excuse British inaction. This is what Brexit removes – the tendency of politicians being able to use the EU’s policies to hide behind (or not) when it suits them.

Agreed Bojo needs some credit here, despite his many other failings. That said he was continuing policies set back in motion in 2014 by Cameron with sustained low level support at all times building up Ukraine’s capabilities.

Last edited 1 year ago by A Spetzari
j watson
j watson
1 year ago

Arguably Brexit contributed towards Putin’s boldness by suggesting Europe was weak and fractured. There was a reason the FBS, and Xi’s MSS, looked to aid Leave social media.
And as regards Article 4, didn’t stop us going into Iraq or bombing ISIS, so the idea that’s a brake on Foreign policy is a nonsense.
There are issues about EU leadership that Ukrainian war has exposed with French and Germans struggling on occasions. But EU is broader than these countries with Poland, Baltic States, Spain rapidly supporting Zelensky, and then of course Finland, Sweden seeking closer NATO alignment. Meloni now v much differentiating herself from Berlusconi with her strong support too. Remarkable unified approach all things considered and sustained now for 15mths. Germany just agreed multi-billion support package on top of all the Leopards etc – almost 100 to our 22 Challengers, so a huge move in the political consensus.
However Bojo is due credit for how he quickly latched onto need to support Ukraine. As a Churchill scholar perhaps not a surprise. Whilst he deserves considerable criticism for his role in UK politics the last 10yrs on this issue he was right. He overplayed it a bit though to try and save his own bacon, but UK was united in the support regardless of PM. It was instinctive.
Perhaps Rees-Mogg needs to do another request in The Sun newspaper, as he did asking for bits of EU legislation they wanted scraped to no great result, for readers to send in examples of Brexit benefits.as he’s struggling a bit on his own isn’t he.

Last edited 1 year ago by j watson
Martin Goodfellow
Martin Goodfellow
1 year ago

“Does Ukraine have Brexit to thank for Western support?” Er… No. JRM is simply saying that to bolster his Brexit cause. He knows those that agree with him will look no further into his argument, and thus those who disagree will feel frustrated by his use of misinformation. Rees-Mogg’s pronouncement serves Ukraine not at all. As for Boris, he is just ‘playing Churchill’, and Zelensky is savvy enough to make use of his folly. Will no one rid us of these meddlesome frauds?

Martin Goodfellow
Martin Goodfellow
1 year ago

“Does Ukraine have Brexit to thank for Western support?” Er… No. JRM is simply saying that to bolster his Brexit cause. He knows those that agree with him will look no further into his argument, and thus those who disagree will feel frustrated by his use of misinformation. Rees-Mogg’s pronouncement serves Ukraine not at all. As for Boris, he is just ‘playing Churchill’, and Zelensky is savvy enough to make use of his folly. Will no one rid us of these meddlesome frauds?

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago

Er, I’m a Remainer, and didn’t notice myself having a “hysterical” reaction to Mr. Mogg’s latest. I’ve rather been missing his updates from planet fop, and this latest desperate salvo just made me smile.
The gap in Mr. Euro-funds’ https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jul/22/jacob-rees-mogg-second-irish-fund-scm logic are his bizarre assumptions that: (1) the EU is a military alliance; and (2) even inside the EU, Britain had ever been constrained in any way in relation to foreign military action. The extent of Britain’s support for Ukraine was 100% down to the mood of Parliament and of the PM of the day. Once the PM and ruling party and House were broadly supportive, Britain always was going to do as it wished, and membership of the EU – both in terms of legal obligation and soft influence outside trade – is entirely a non-sequitur.
I wonder did his desperate campaign to ask tabloid readers to send him ideas about Brexit successes contribute anything to this, or did the faux-toff (anyone who knows bona fide English upper crust types will see through the Mogg’s overdone, wannabe foppish facade at 50 paces) dream this one up himself.
His purported justification for asserting that Britain might have been constrained by EU membership is legally-illiterate piffle – sloppy beyond belief. As any half-awake corporate lawyer could tell you, there is no obligation in the following wording:
“
 pursuant to the principle of sincere cooperation, the Union and the Member States shall, in full mutual respect, assist each other in carrying out tasks which flow from the Treaties 
”
First, absent egregious (recorded or written) bad faith, and absent mind-reading devices, there is no test for “sincerity”. 
Second, he is confusing – or perhaps hoping to elide – the obvious distinction between “cooperation” and e.g., full mandatory alignment. Cooperation refers merely to the action or process of working together to the same end. It’s axiomatic that parties sincerely working together for the same end ordinarily and reasonably would have different ideas how things should be carried out, and about when things such be carried out. I’d love to see you in front of a High Court master, trying to tell him that there is no material distinction between “cooperation” (wherein cooperating parties have individual and unilateral agency) and being required to do what the majority in a group prefers. If one cooperating party wishes to do more, or to act faster, that does not in any way offend against any such cooperation principle. 
Third, obviously, conducting foreign wars is not within the ambit of the Treaties in any event. Member states have obligations re mutual self-defence – but Ukraine is not a member state. Otherwise, EU countries may cooperate on military missions, but they are conducted on a voluntary, case-by-case basis by national militaries. There is no standing EU army independent of member states’ armies.
Every way you look at it therefore, Mr. Moggs’s assertion fails.   
Next week: Brexit solves global warming. 

John Tyler
John Tyler
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

I don’t think anyone, let alone JRM, has mentioned military action by UK or EU. my understanding of JRM’s position is that UK was relatively free to act swiftly without either EU bureaucracy or demands for united inaction. (UK was also quick to seek a robust NATO response, but that’s another issue.)

John Tyler
John Tyler
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

I don’t think anyone, let alone JRM, has mentioned military action by UK or EU. my understanding of JRM’s position is that UK was relatively free to act swiftly without either EU bureaucracy or demands for united inaction. (UK was also quick to seek a robust NATO response, but that’s another issue.)

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
1 year ago

Er, I’m a Remainer, and didn’t notice myself having a “hysterical” reaction to Mr. Mogg’s latest. I’ve rather been missing his updates from planet fop, and this latest desperate salvo just made me smile.
The gap in Mr. Euro-funds’ https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jul/22/jacob-rees-mogg-second-irish-fund-scm logic are his bizarre assumptions that: (1) the EU is a military alliance; and (2) even inside the EU, Britain had ever been constrained in any way in relation to foreign military action. The extent of Britain’s support for Ukraine was 100% down to the mood of Parliament and of the PM of the day. Once the PM and ruling party and House were broadly supportive, Britain always was going to do as it wished, and membership of the EU – both in terms of legal obligation and soft influence outside trade – is entirely a non-sequitur.
I wonder did his desperate campaign to ask tabloid readers to send him ideas about Brexit successes contribute anything to this, or did the faux-toff (anyone who knows bona fide English upper crust types will see through the Mogg’s overdone, wannabe foppish facade at 50 paces) dream this one up himself.
His purported justification for asserting that Britain might have been constrained by EU membership is legally-illiterate piffle – sloppy beyond belief. As any half-awake corporate lawyer could tell you, there is no obligation in the following wording:
“
 pursuant to the principle of sincere cooperation, the Union and the Member States shall, in full mutual respect, assist each other in carrying out tasks which flow from the Treaties 
”
First, absent egregious (recorded or written) bad faith, and absent mind-reading devices, there is no test for “sincerity”. 
Second, he is confusing – or perhaps hoping to elide – the obvious distinction between “cooperation” and e.g., full mandatory alignment. Cooperation refers merely to the action or process of working together to the same end. It’s axiomatic that parties sincerely working together for the same end ordinarily and reasonably would have different ideas how things should be carried out, and about when things such be carried out. I’d love to see you in front of a High Court master, trying to tell him that there is no material distinction between “cooperation” (wherein cooperating parties have individual and unilateral agency) and being required to do what the majority in a group prefers. If one cooperating party wishes to do more, or to act faster, that does not in any way offend against any such cooperation principle. 
Third, obviously, conducting foreign wars is not within the ambit of the Treaties in any event. Member states have obligations re mutual self-defence – but Ukraine is not a member state. Otherwise, EU countries may cooperate on military missions, but they are conducted on a voluntary, case-by-case basis by national militaries. There is no standing EU army independent of member states’ armies.
Every way you look at it therefore, Mr. Moggs’s assertion fails.   
Next week: Brexit solves global warming.