Britain has for many years been one of the world’s main arms exporters, and the arms sector of the economy has survived at its current level largely because of this. In spite of all the issues thrown up by the court case brought by the Campaign Against Arms Trade, the pressure will be on to maintain the export trade, with potential for many future arguments over human rights. There are both external and internal reasons why this is so, starting with the impact of Donald Trump.
Because of Brexit, Theresa May is going to need Trump a lot more than he needs her, and this will almost certainly involve a continuing commitment to the US-led war against Islamic State, at a time when Trump plans to expand that war. For all the talk of isolationism there are clear signs of an increase in military adventurism. It is not just the appointment of senior ex-generals to head the Pentagon and department of homeland security and to the post of national security adviser: more significant still is the plan for a substantial increase in military spending, even if the US defence budget is already not far short of 45% of the world total.
Trump is even prepared to increase the budget through deficit financing if necessary, and his recent visit to the Pentagon was a prelude to receiving new ideas for destroying Isis. One proposal is to deploy a reinforced brigade of more than 5,000 troops into Syria to aid the Kurds and other militias in the assault on the Isis HQ in Raqqa later in the…