Relaciones Internacionales – Comunicación Internacional

Europe, the UK and Putin’s threat

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The West plainly doesn’t want Ukraine to lose — to suffer the humiliation Len Deighton imagined if Britain had been overrun in 1941. But does it want Ukraine to win? Niall Ferguson asks the question

‘Halfway up Wimbledon High Street… there was the blackened shell of a Panzer IV, a monument to some unknown youth who — with a Worthington beer bottle, filled from the service station at the top of the hill, and a box of Swan Vesta matches — passed into legend, and into songs that were sometimes crooned softly where no German ears listened.’

Len Deighton, SS-GB (1978)

Losing a war on your own soil is the ultimate nightmare. It is a nightmare England has been spared for nearly ten centuries. But we had a close call in 1940. That was why, when Len Deighton’s thriller SS-GB — set in a Britain occupied by Nazi Germany — was published in 1978, it made so many shudder.

Britain avoided defeat in 1940 because enough of our soldiers were rescued from Dunkirk, and enough had been done to prepare our air force for the Battle of Britain.

Defence spending had essentially flatlined from 1923 until 1933. But between then — the year Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany — and 1938 it rose by a factor of four.

Relative to gross domestic product (GDP), it rose from 2.6 per cent to 7.4 per cent.

We have come long way since VE-Day 1945 — mostly, but not always, downhill. There is still much to be proud of. Today, Britain’s armed services continue to punch above our economic weight compared with most European countries.

In cash terms, we have the largest defence budget in Europe — £52 billion this year, ahead of France and Germany.

Last year it was equivalent to 2.1 per cent of GDP, making the UK one of only 11 members of Nato spending more than 2 per cent.


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