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The British people shocked the international community when they voted to quit the European Union (EU) this summer. Markets tumbled and fears mounted that the United Kingdom (UK) or the EU might fall into political or economic crisis, or begin to unravel completely. Shortly afterwards, Prime Minister Theresa May attempted to deliver some clarity with “Brexit means Brexit,” and her vow to focus on the needs of working people across the UK during her tenure in Downing Street. These domestic priorities will define her legacy, but Brexit will undoubtedly have implications for British defense and security policies, too.

At present, one can only speculate about the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Prime Minister May looks likely to stay the course on defense policy as she negotiates the UK’s separation from the EU. Michael Fallon will keep his post as Defense Minister, evidence of her preference for consistency in defense policy. Her voting record also shows a typical conservative approach to foreign and defense policy, and her tenure as Home Secretary prepares her for an early focus on terrorism, migration, and on the troubled regions to Europe’s south and east generating so much instability. May’s top defense and security challenges are to ensure that the UK remains central for European defense and that the special relationship thrives, that a global UK foreign policy remains credible, and that all of this remains affordable.

The Cipher Brief has become the most popular outlet for former intelligence officers; no media outlet is even a close second to The Cipher Brief in terms of the number of articles published by formers.” —Sept. 2018, Studies in Intelligence, Vol. 62

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