Brexiteer hails UK for leaving EU just in time as bloc announces joint armed forces

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Ahead of the 2016 referendum, leaders of the ‘Remain’ campaign dismissed the claim the EU was seeking greater centralisation, with then Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg branding the notion of a Brussels-led army a “dangerous fantasy”. This was despite clear notices from EU leaders that such a force was being prepared.

Then European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker stressed in 2015: “A common European army would convey a clear message to Russia that we are serious about defending our European values.”

Preparations are now drawing closer to a conclusion, with an EU group signalling its support for such plans.

EU Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt recently celebrated the approval of a “Joint Armed Forces of the Union”.

He wrote in a post on Twitter: “Conference on the Future of Europe approves radical overhaul of the EU.

“[These include the] end of unanimity, abolishment of vetos, launch of Joint Armed Forces of the Union, transnational lists and many other reforms.”

Brexiteers were quick to mark their relief that Britain is already out of the bloc.

Trade unionist Paul Embery wrote in a post on Twitter: “We got out in the nick of time.

“Thank God.”

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Journalist Patrick O’Flynn added: “This is not an agenda the British people as a whole could have accepted.

“Remain was always a fantasy and thank goodness Project Fear failed in 2016 and moderate, pro-nation state sentiment prevailed.”

Recently appointed Minister for Brexit Opportunities Jacob Rees-Mogg also highlighted another area of concern amid Mr Verhofstadt’s celebrations.

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He wrote: “The end of unanimity [that is, the requirement for all EU member states to agree on new proposals] is the end of the last shred of national sovereignty in Europe.

“We were always right to reassert British democracy with our vote to leave.”

While Brussels officials are celebrating the move as a sealer of EU unity, critics suggest these moves could actually push member states further away from the bloc.

Dutch MEP Michiel Hoogeveen wrote: “While Mr Verhofstadt proclaims his European empire, he actually deepens the divide in the EU.

“The Conference on the Future of Europe was by no means representative and there was no consensus.”

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February appeared to increase calls for the formation of a EU army, though the move would likely push members which are already sceptical of the Brussels consensus closer to the edge of the union.

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