LONDON — As the drama over Brexit continues to reach new heights, the U.K. government has raised eyebrows by announcing that it will host 10,000 foreign troops for a massive military exercise beginning the day after Brexit had been set to take place.
The announcement of the exercise has raised the specter of a post-Brexit “martial law” scenario, given that the Theresa May-led government has been examining the possibility of declaring martial law in the country in the event of a no-deal Brexit since at least this January.
According to a government press release, the NATO-affiliated military exercise known as “Joint Warrior” will take place from March 30 until April 11 and will see the U.K. host 10,000 soldiers as well as 35 warships, five submarines, and 59 aircraft and helicopters. Thirteen countries will participate, including the United States, France and Germany, and the exercise will occur in areas spaced throughout Scotland, Wales and England.
Though the exercise has occurred for several years, its timing the day immediately after Brexit has raised concerns that the Tory government may, in fact, enact its publicly acknowledged no-deal Brexit martial-law plan despite claims from Health Secretary Matt Hancock in January that, while such an option exists, it “isn’t the focus of our attention.” When the exercise was announced on March 14, Brexit was set to take place March 29 but, a two-week extension having been worked out with the EU, that date was recently changed to April 12, the day immediately after the exercise is set to end.
Following the extension, Politico reported that the EU had essentially taken control of the Brexit timetable and a “no-deal” Brexit still remains the most likely option come April 12, with some EU leaders giving a Brexit deal a 10 percent chance of passing in Parliament.