RAF and French air force strike deal to strengthen military cooperation post-Brexit

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The Royal Air Force announced it had joined France’s air force in signing the Core Vision Statement, just two weeks after both nations said they would deploy a 10,000-strong joint military force in response to shared threats. Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston said the new agreement would “further strengthen the bond” between the two neighbouring air forces.

The RAF’s chief of air staff said the deal would build on the progress made by the UK and France in the decade since both countries signed the Lancaster House Treaties.

The treaties ensured mutual military cooperation and have been credited for strengthening Franco-British defence ties.

He said the treaties reflected the “close bond” between the two nations.

Sir Mike said one of the fruits to come out of the treaties were the “combined operations in Libya in 2011, with our two air forces making leading contributions to the success of that campaign”.

During the uprising in Libya, British, French and American militaries attacked forces loyal to Col Muammar Gaddafi.

Sir Mike also said France and the UK had worked closely in the “fight against extremism wherever it threatens the safety and security of France, the UK or our allies.”

He added: “We’ve enjoyed 10 years of enhanced military cooperation and shared success.

“It draws on the deep foundations of the relationship between our two air forces forged in the fight for freedom in the Second World War.

“Today, looking to the future, we have signed a common strategic vision for our two air and space forces to develop our relationship further still.

“Together we will work towards even greater interoperability and operational efficiency delivering air and space power to protect our two nations.”

The deal comes just two weeks after Defence Secretary Ben Wallace hailed the “close defence relationship” enjoyed by the two nations.

One of the goals of the Lancaster House Treaties was to establish a combined joint expeditionary force to address shared threats.

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And on November 2 the Government announced the deployment of 10,000 troops to respond to the rising threats.

Mr Wallace said: “Having a highly capable, high readiness force is essential if we are to protect both UK security and the security of our NATO allies.

“It is testament to our close defence relationship that we have achieved all the milestones set out in the Lancaster House treaties 10 years ago, working together to protect our mutual interests.”

The signing of the defence pact comes as fears of a no-deal Brexit ratchet up in the UK and on the continent.

Post-Brexit trade talks between London and Brussels have yet to show any signs of producing a free trade deal.

The European Commission is holding off on updating EU contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit amid a final push in talks with Britain to safeguard free trade from tariffs and quotas in six weeks’ time, officials said.

The Netherlands, France, Belgium and Spain have asked the executive Commission – which negotiates with Britain on behalf of the 27 EU states – to update emergency plans to mitigate the worst damage if no new trade deal is put in place in time.

A senior EU diplomat said: “Now that we are this late in November… it’s high time we ask the Commission to come out with (contingency measures) because we have to prepare, in case we cannot fix an agreement in time.”

But the Commission has so far resisted the request, saying it remains focused on getting a deal and that countries, businesses and people have had a long time to prepare for an abrupt split in ties.

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