Firstly, the agreement we conclude with the EU must respect the referendum. It was a vote to take control of our borders, our laws and our money. And a vote for broader change, so that no community in Britain would be lagging behind again. But it was not a vote for a distant relationship with our neighbors. 25 « The Joint Nuclear Commission of the United Kingdom and France generally meets every six months at the official level, alternately in London and Paris. The Commission`s discussions cover a wide range of issues, but they exclude by mutual agreement the operational aspects of our respective deterrence forces. Keith Vaz, Secretary of State for Europe, HC Deb, March 6, 2000, 345 Col. 500W. 7. The British and French military accounted for half of EU defence spending and two-thirds research and development. For example, how has the withdrawal from the EU affected Franco-British defence policy by allowing a possible security agreement? These agreements are an integral part of any trade agreement. Indeed, why should one country enter into a privileged economic partnership without recourse, while the other part practices anti-competitive practices? 28 Diplomats, senior officials and senior military officials from LaFrançais and the United Kingdom all signalled very quickly that bilateral cooperation would progress after Brexit, just as it has survived political changes in both countries in recent years. With regard to military cooperation, relations between the armed forces of the two countries are now much stronger than nine years ago, when the treaties were signed, with French and British chiefs of staff and senior officers meeting regularly.
With regard to industrial cooperation, recent agreements signed by the French and British defence ministers have confirmed that MBDA will play a pioneering role in bilateral and even European integration in the future. Politically, however, relations between the French and British leaders have become more strained during the Brexit negotiations. While Brexit is not likely to jeopardise bilateral cooperation, new political tensions could slow it down considerably. The agreement was ratified by the French and British parliaments in October 2016 and provides for the opening of eight centres of excellence.   Ministry of Defence, « Britain and France strengthen defence cooperation with a new arms system agreement, » 28 March 2017, [29 January 2020]. We discuss this at length in our new book on European defence and the Lancaster House agreements, signed ten years ago this year, are obviously important in this regard. For all these reasons – and because of our shared values and the spirit of goodwill that exists on both sides – I am convinced that we will follow a better path. I am convinced that a positive agreement can be reached.
It is true that the Government is preparing for any eventuality, but knowing that a constructive and optimistic approach to the forthesty negotiations is in the best interests of Europe and in the best interests of the United Kingdom. David Cameron`s negotiations were a last courageous attempt to make it work for Britain – and I would like to thank all those from other parts of Europe who helped him reach an agreement – but the frank truth is, as we know, that there was not enough flexibility for the majority of British voters on many important issues.