UK Home Office permanent secretary Philip Rutnam has suggested troops could patrol Britain's borders as a "last resort" should the country exit the European Union without securing a deal.
Under questioning by the Commons Home Affairs Committee on whether the UK could sufficiently staff the borders in all possible outcomes of Brexit negotiations, Rutnam said it would be "unwise to rule anything out."
Home Office Permanent Secretary Philip Rutnam says it would be unwise to rule out using troops to police the borders in a no-deal Brexit.— Adam Bienkov (@AdamBienkov) October 17, 2017
"It seems clear to me any use of the military would be an absolute last resort. Our preference — strong preference — is to deal with the border and security needed at the border, through border force and that is the basis in which our planning is proceeding," Rutnam said.
Rutnam's comments followed mere hours after Brexit Secretary David Davis said the prospect of "no deal" must be seriously considered for "negotiating reasons and sensible security" — although following Rutnam's grilling by MPs, Home Secretary Amber Rudd told the same committee it would be "unthinkable" for the negotiations with Brussels to end without a deal in place.
If Rutnam's scenario came to pass, it would not be the first time the British military has stepped in to help ease understaffing issues in other services. For instance, troops were dispatched to the 2012 London Olympics after private security giant G4S failed to train enough security staff for the event.
Brussels, Dublin and London have all expressed a strong desire not to return to state of affairs, and the issue of the Irish border has been at the forefront of initial Brexit negotiations — negotiations which nonetheless are yet to bear tangible concord in any area of discussion.