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Now the UK must decide how to respond to the EU’s attempt to rebuild European security architecture. Russia is sabre-rattling again by moving short-range nuclear Iskander missiles to the enclave of Kaliningrad, menacing EU capitals. Nato remains the basis of Western security, but its major beneficiary is not pulling its weight. Boris Johnson should invite the new German foreign minister, Heiko Maas, to London to ask him why Berlin is paying only half of its Nato membership fee. He should make clear to Mr Maas that HMG views with displeasure the stated aim of his government to pursue the goal of a European army, which is likely to dissipate resources that should properly be placed at the disposal of the alliance to which Germany is a signatory. He should explain, politely but firmly, that British interests will in future be global rather than regional. Germany must not expect the UK to pick up the tab for its defence.

The Foreign Secretary should have similarly frank conversations with other allies that have come to take Britain for granted. At the same time, he should explain how a renewed British sovereignty will transform our readiness to project power, in close co-operation with the United States and our other Anglophone allies. Europe should be left in no doubt that the UK, while still committed to Nato, now sees itself once again as primarily a sea power. The deterrence of Russia on land must be primarily the responsibility of the states directly at risk, led by Germany and Poland.  The abysmal relationship between Berlin and Warsaw (due to the former’s meddling and the latter’s demand for war reparations) is an obstacle to their ability to discharge that responsibility. Mrs Merkel has refrained from criticising the Polish law that bans any suggestion that Poles took part in the Holocaust. That law is an insult to Jews who died at the hands of Poles.

Last month Mrs May and Mrs Merkel had a belated conversation that touched on security issues. It has so far taken nearly six months to form a German government, which could yet fall apart. British foreign policy has been predicated on the assumption that Germany’s support was crucial to the damage limitation exercise which sums up the Foreign Office attitude to Brexit. Quite apart from the wrong-headedness of that attitude, it is now clear that Berlin will do Britain no favours. A list of sanctions to be used against the UK during the “transition” has emerged from the European Commission — with German fingerprints all over it.

So it is time to stop pretending that the post-Brexit relationship with the EU will change “very modestly”, as Philip Hammond claims. Berlin has made its hostility to Brexit so clear that we must take it seriously. There is a word for what is needed from Boris Johnson in this predicament — a German word, as it happens. That word is Realpolitik.
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