Cameron says post-Brexit UK will remain committed to European defence

Britain's Minister for Defence Procurement Philip Dunne speaks at Lockheed Martin's new Manufacturing Centre of Excellence in Ampthill near Bedford, Britain, on June 9, 2016.
Britain's Minister for Defence Procurement Philip Dunne speaks at Lockheed Martin's new Manufacturing Centre of Excellence in Ampthill near Bedford, Britain, on June 9, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

WARSAW/RAF FAIRFORD, England (Reuters) – British Prime Minister David Cameron, who announced his resignation after losing a referendum on keeping Britain in the European Union last month, said on Friday (July 8) his country would remain committed to European defence after it leaves the bloc.

“What I’ll be saying is that Britain may be leaving the EU but we are not turning our back on Europe and we’re not turning our back on European defence and security,” he told reporters on arrival at his final Nato summit before stepping down.

His message was echoed by Britain's Minister for Defence Procurement Philip Dunne earlier on Friday. Speaking at the Royal International Air Tattoo, the world's largest military air show, Dunne told reporters: "(Britain is) not retreating into its shell."

Britain remains the largest international partner on the Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jet programme, with about 15 per cent of each jet produced by firms in Britain, Dunne said.

"We see no reason why that can't continue in the future," he added.

Dunne said it was still too early to predict the impact of the vote on Britain's trade arrangements, but he was confident that the country would continue to have the strongest defence and security supply chain in Europe.

He said industry officials had told him they expected the aerospace industry to be "broadly unaffected" by the vote.

"It's most unlikely that we will see significant trade tariffs coming in any future relationship," Dunne said, although he acknowledged that Britain's future trade ties with the EU would still have to negotiated.

US Air Force Chief of Staff General David Goldfein meanwhile said he saw no sign that Britain was retreating from its Nato commitments or from its strong defence ties to the United States following the Brexit vote.

"I've heard no one talking about backing off an inch" from commitments to the Nato alliance, Goldfein told reporters at the Royal International Air Tattoo, the world's largest military airshow.

Goldfein added it was too early to make predictions about the long-term effects of the British referendum decision.