Back to top

Will of the people? 52% of Brits oppose military intervention overseas

Bombing of Syria by the US-led coalition

Will of the people? 52% of Brits oppose military intervention overseas

A new poll published by YouGov suggests that over half of adults in the UK oppose the use of UK troops in other countries. Only slightly more than a quarter expressed support for such policies.

52% of respondents agreed with the policy of "my country not taking part in military interventions in other countries".

Only 27% disagreed. A further 21% said they "don't know".

The poll is bad news for Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, who last week announced plans for an expansion of British military bases around the world. He claimed that the UK could be a "global power" in military terms after Brexit.

But the news was welcomed by the Peace Pledge Union (PPU), a longstanding British pacifist group, who pointed out that the British public are much more anti-war than most politicians.

Despite the majority public view demonstrated by the poll, the British army's website lists 15 sites of British military deployment outside of the UK, apart from those covered by the navy and air force.

The Royal Air Force is training Saudi pilots engaged in the bombing of Yemen. British 'special forces' are reportedly operating in Syria. UK troops are in Estonia, in an area where NATO and Russian forces are stirring up military tension against each other.

Symon Hill, spokesperson for the Peace Pledge Union, said:

"If the government were as keen on 'the will of the people' as they claim to be, they would end the role of British troops in fuelling violent conflict in countries such as Syria, Estonia and Saudi Arabia. With his plans for new military bases, Gavin Williamson seems more concerned with playing out his military fantasies than with either public opinion or real security. The government's policies are of more benefit to arms companies than they are to the British public or the people in the countries to which UK troops are sent.

"In the light of this poll, opposition parties need to have more courage to adopt clearly anti-war and anti-militarist policies.

"Ending military interventions overseas would be a great first step, and we urge the public to go further and support the scrapping of armed forces altogether. We cannot tackle the real security threats that people face today - poverty, climate change, terrorism - by relying on armed forces. They don't make us safer; they make the whole world less safe."

The Peace Pledge Union (PPU) is a UK-based pacifist network. The PPU is the British section of War Resisters' International, which unites pacifists around the world.