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Former defence chief Lord Guthrie has boosted the hopes of Brexit campaigners by dramatically switching sides from Remain to Leave over 'dangerous' European army plans.

Only four months ago he signed a Downing Street letter from military leaders arguing that Britain would be safer in the EU.

But the Field Marshall, who ran our armed forces in the 1990s, now says that was a 'mistake' and that being out of the EU is 'better for defence', fearing that a future European army would hinder Nato forces.

Prime Minister and Leave campaigner David Cameron has been attempting to deny the rumours that the EU wants to set up its own army. However, a British eurosceptic MEP has recently said that the EU does indeed have plans for its own army but has deliberately shelved the public unveiling of the plans until 24 June - the day after the UK's EU in/out referendum. It is amongst several pieces of unpopular legislation that the EU has put on hold until after the referendum, fearing that if it introduced the legislation before the referendum it could persuade voters to opt for Brexit.

Senior defence chief Lord Guthrie switches sides in Brexit battle from Remain to Leave over 'dangerous' European army plans


Lord Guthrie ran the armed forces in the 1990s during the Balkan conflicts

Signed Downing Street letter four months ago calling for Britain to Remain

But he has changed his mind over 'dangerous' plans for a European army


By Charlie Moore For Mailonline
18 June 2016

Former defence chief Lord Guthrie has boosted the hopes of Brexit campaigners by dramatically switching sides from Remain to Leave over 'dangerous' European army plans.

Only four months ago he signed a Downing Street letter from military leaders arguing that Britain would be safer in the EU.

But the Field Marshall, who ran our armed forces in the 1990s, now says that was a 'mistake' and that being out of the EU is 'better for defence', fearing that a future European army would hinder Nato forces.


Former defence chief Lord Guthrie has boosted the hopes of Brexit campaigners by dramatically switching sides from Remain to Leave over 'dangerous' European army plans

In a interview with the Telegraph he said: 'I think a European army could damage Nato. It is expensive. It's unnecessary duplication to have it. It would appeal to some Euro vanity thing.'

'There's a feeling that those backing the European army are doing it for political reasons rather than military ones. They want to be able to boast, "Look! We've got a European army". That is dangerous,' he added.

Lord Guthrie presided over the British Army during the the Balkan conflicts and the rescue of Sierra Leone.

He served in Germany for 14 years and commanded the British Army of the Rhine from 1992-94.

He was then involved in the Nato Partnership for Peace after the fall of the Berlin Wall and his allegiance to the alliance remains strong.


Only four months ago Lord Guthrie (pictured in 2001) signed a Downing Street letter from military leaders arguing that Britain would be safer in the EU

He said that 'it would be a signal disaster to have a European army as rivals to Nato.'

'I am concerned that the Army which I was in for 45 years could become very damaged and therefore less useful to our country.'

As CDS, he attended meetings in Brussels where he noticed a desire to bring Europe closer together regarding defence.

He said that the Germans and President Mitterrand of France were very keen on the idea of a European army and that now the European Parliament is also keen as is made clear by its use of phrases such as 'politico-military structures in Brussels.’


Lord Guthrie says being out of the EU is 'better for defence', fearing that a future European army would hinder Nato forces

EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker is among those to have said a European army is needed to stand up to Russia. But the idea could be blocked by Britain, as EU treaties make clear.

The government has previously said Britain will 'never be part of an EU army'.

Lord Guthrie also said that he felt more European that American but that the Americans are more important.

'When things get really serious, we need the Americans. That's where the power is. If the Americans had been around at the time of the Ukraine events, I doubt whether Putin would have dared be so bold,' he said.

There are five days to go until the referendum on 23 June but campaigning has been suspended until Sunday, following the killing of Labour MP Jo Cox on Thursday.


He served in Germany for 14 years and commanded the British Army of the Rhine from 1992-94



Read more: Senior defence chief Lord Guthrie switches sides in Brexit battle from Remain to Leave over 'dangerous' European army plans* | Daily Mail Online
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