Some of the UK”s most senior retired military officers have written an open letter backing the Prime Minister”s campaign to remain in Europe.
The letter, which has been published in today”s Daily Telegraph, is signed by 13 former Generals, Admirals and Air Chief Marshals.
“We are proud to have served our country, and to have played our part in keeping Britain safe,” they write.
“In the forthcoming referendum, therefore, we are particularly concerned with one central question: will Britain be safer inside the EU or outside it? When we look at the world today, there seems to us only one answer.”
The senior figures have fought in almost every British conflict since the Second World War. They include Field Marshall Lord Bramall, who took part in the Normandy Landings; former Deputy NATO Commander General Sir Richard Shirreff and General Sir Michael Rose, a former Director of Special Forces.
“NATO, of course, is and will remain the most important alliance for maintaining Britain”s national security, particularly when we need complex military capabilities,” they go on.
“But the other, increasingly important pillar of our security is the European Union. Europe today is facing a series of grave security challenges, from instability in the Middle East and the rise of Daesh (Islamic State), to resurgent Russian nationalism and aggression.
“Britain will have to confront these challenges whether it is inside or outside the EU. But within the EU, we are stronger. Inside it, we can continue to collaborate closely with our European allies, just as we did when we helped to force the Iranians to the negotiating table through EU-wide sanctions, or made sure that Putin would pay a price for his aggression in Ukraine.”
Other signatories include Lord Dannatt, former Head of the British Army, Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, former First Sea Lord and Marshal of the RAF Jock Stirrup.
They conclude that “our firm veto over EU foreign policy decisions guarantees not only that we will never be forced to join EU initiatives that are against our strategic interest, but also that we can actively block the rest of the EU from going ahead in such circumstances.
“As the Prime Minister himself has said, the EU today is a tool through which Britain can get things done in the world.”
Between them they have served in France, Aden, Malaysia, East Africa, Falklands, Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Iraq, the Caribbean, Germany and Cyprus.
David Cameron”s opponents are likely to accuse him of scare-mongering. The letter has been published 24 hours after Downing Street orchestrated a similar endorsement from business leaders.