Published in the Spectator, 28 November 2009
Sir: Your cover story (“How the Tories can still win in Europe”, 14 November) quotes Liam Fox saying: “We can never allow defence procurement to be a supranational issue”. If he really means this, he is 70, if not 93, years too late. In November 1916, at the height of the first world war North Atlantic U-boat threat, the Wheat Executive was set up with the responsibility of deciding, on a supranational basis, how much wheat should be sent to each of Britain, France and Italy from the scarce supplies that were available. The principle was extended to a wide range of materials and to the shipping needed to carry them, with the creation of the Allied Maritime Transport Committee in March 1918.
At the next moment of great peril, the same supranational approach was adopted. The Anglo-French Coordinating Committee, set up under the chairmanship of Jean Monnet in October 1939, had the explicit mission to acquire military equipment and aircraft from the United States jointly for France and the UK.
If scarce and badly needed military resources can be put to best use by supranational means, why should we do anything else? The nation would be better served by a future Conservative government that thought more practically and less ideologically on this matter.