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Threat of post-Brexit gunboats is kneejerk militarism

Royal Navy vessels

Threat of post-Brexit gunboats is kneejerk militarism

The Peace Pledge Union has said that threats to deploy gunboats are rooted in a naive belief that all problems can be solved with armed force.

The Ministry of Defence has said that four Royal Navy vessels are on hand to enforce British fishing rights in the event of the Brexit transition period ending without a deal on 31 December.

The threat of armed force to uphold fishing rights is the lead story in many of today's newspapers (12 December 2020). The Daily Mail's front page headline is “We'll send in gunboats” and the Daily Express leads with “Gunboats to guard our fish”. The Times, with the front-page headline, “Navy to board French boats”, reports that French fishing workers could be arrested by the Royal Military Police.

The Peace Pledge Union (PPU) suggested that the announcement seemed to be an attempt to whip up nationalistic fervour to distract attention away from Boris Johnson's handling of both Brexit and the Covid crisis.

They added that it implied an assumption that the ultimate solution to any problem was to “send in the troops”. The PPU described this as a simplistic response that is only likely to make the situation worse. The PPU is one of several groups drawing attention to everyday militarism: the ways in which militaristic assumptions affect everyday life, politics and society.

Ed Bridges, a member of PPU's elected Council, pointed out the government's hyprocrisy. He said, "According to the UK Government, fish who swim into British waters are “ours” and we will literally send in actual gunboats to defend them, but refugees who enter our waters are nothing to do with us and not our responsibility?"

The Peace Pledge Union is the UK's leading pacifist campaign group. PPU members pledge to resist war and the causes of war. PPU members include people with varied views on the EU, including people who voted for Remain and for Leave in the referendum.