Gordon Brown has denied that the French and British navies would merge, telling MPs any such suggestion was “totally untrue”.
A national report claimed there was a “potty plan” by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to place a British aircraft carrier at the core of a new EU naval force.
At PM’s question time, Mr Brown said there was “no proposal to merge the use of aircraft carriers” – in relation to defence co-operation with Paris, “we will work together, not merge, not amalgamate.”
The report claimed one of Britain’s two aircraft carriers would have to be directed by Brussels and would fly the EU flag instead of the White Ensign. Labour’s Ian Davidson (Glasgow SW) asked Mr Brown to “guarantee” that “as part of the trade-off following the collapse of the EU Treaty there will be no further additional defence arrangements brought forward”.
Mr Brown told him: “We announced the measures of co-operation with the French when President Sarkozy was here a few months ago. But I just repeat there is no proposal to merge the use of aircraft carriers as has been suggested in the Press. If one looks at the French statement, the French equivalent of a defence white paper, it does not say that.
“It says there will be association, in other words we will work together, not merge, not amalgamate.”
Labour former Europe Minister Denis MacShane (Rotherham) praised the “historic decision” by Paris to rejoin the military command of Nato.