“All politics reduces itself to this formula: try to be one of three, as long as the world is governed by the unstable equilibrium of five great powers.”
Count Otto von Bismarck, Chancellor of Germany in 1880.
There are, arguably, four major powers in the world, today, the EU, China, Russia and the USA.
The UK, having left the EU does not increase that number to five, despite our permanent place on the UN Security Council and our Vanguard submarine permanently on station, somewhere in the world’s oceans, with its small armoury of Trident missiles.
However, the latest Brexit unicorn, Global Britain requires Keir Starmer to practise doublethink.
He knows, one assumes, that outside of the EU, we may no longer claim to be a bridge between the UK and the USA.
One of the reasons why mainstream opinion in the USA advised against our leaving the EU was that it weakened our influence, naturally, with the EU and our value as an ally of the USA.
However, Starmer must not be seen to disabuse another Brexit unicorn, the mythical Red Wall voter, of the fact that outside of the EU we are not a stronger nation than we were when we were within it.
“Fog In The Channel, Continent Cut Off!” is supposed to have been a Daily Express headline from the period between World War One and World War Two. It neatly sums up English exceptionalism.
It was a pathetic mindset, back then.
It is even more pathetic, today.
And Starmer is cutting an ever more pathetic figure as Labour leader, adrift on a sea he seems incapable of navigating to any purpose.
Labour has embraced Hard Brexit, meaning …
Today, Thursday 10th February 2022.
One may not honour such pledges as the economy contracts without making cuts elsewhere in public expenditure.
Such promises may only be met without cutbacks elsewhere when an economy is doing well.
Hard Brexit guarantees that will not be the case for some time to come.
It is a sign of the insanity of the times in which we live that whilst the UK has 1.247 million unfilled jobs and companies on survival watch, folk are talking about people and communities thriving.
And an ex SpAd and an ex journalist speak of creating good jobs (whatever they are) down your way.
One answer to our growing labour and skills shortages is increased (im)migration to which English Labour and the Conservatives are opposed.
However, Priti Patel’s policy of growing our own domestic workforce does not extend to UK’s armed forces.
The rules for overseas recruitment by the Ministry of Defence have been relaxed since 2016 to address labour and skill shortages and now 10% of the regular army are foreign mercenaries.
The 79 tanks being phased out are Challenger IIs.
In March 2021, the British Army announced plans to upgrade 148 Challenger IIs with the aim of extending their service life out to at least 2035; these upgraded models will be known as Challenger III and the work will be carried out by the British/German Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land joint venture. It is not planned to upgrade all Challenger IIs; those not upgraded will be retired.
“If you were to ask the person in the street how long it takes to design and produce a brand new main battle tank, her answer would probably be far wide of the mark, mostly because she sees the products she uses constantly changing, such as a new mobile phone every year. To those in the know, however, the truth for armoured vehicles is vastly different. It is not a case of a committee sitting down one day and saying ‘well our tanks are nearly at the end of their life let’s design a new one’ all agree and very soon that country has a brand new fleet of tanks. If it was only like that life would be simple. There are so many factors that have to be taken into account such as cost, how many, what role, what equipment and constant design changes. These are the normal restraints regardless of whether you are creating a tank, warship or fighter plane, also on top of all this there is the political interference. So many promising projects have fallen foul of politicians interfering in things they do not really understand.“
“Coupled with that are world events, which are relevant to the story of Challenger.”
Griffin, Robert. Challenger 1: British Main Battle Tank of the Gulf War. Pen & Sword Books.
“Following Britain’s exit from EU, early in 2021 the UK entered talks to be allowed into the European Main Battle Tank project as an observer. This may have a bearing on a future replacement of the Challenger 2.”
So would a Labour Government buy into EMBT or would Rachel “bully the public sector into trying to source more British” Reeves prevail and Britain go it alone on developing a wholly new, very expensive Main Battle Tank?