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The BBC's Political Editor, Andrew Marr
"Britain's political leaders have gone into battle"
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Wednesday, 22 November, 2000, 04:19 GMT
Thatcher condemns 'EU army'
British soldiers in Bosnia
12,500 UK troops will be part of the force
Baroness Thatcher has denounced Tony Blair's support for a new European defence force as "monumental folly".

Interviewed on the eve of the 10th anniversary of her departure from Downing Street, the former Conservative Prime Minister said the creation of the EU Rapid Reaction Force makes no military sense at all and threatens to divide and destroy Nato.

"Europe has even less chance of becoming a military power than of creating a sound currency," Lady Thatcher said.

And in her strongest attack on Mr Blair yet, she accused the prime minister of jeopardising the UK's security.

lady thatcher
Thatcher: "Monumental folly"
"It is a piece of monumental folly that puts our security at risk in order to satisfy political vanity," she told the Sun newspaper.

Lady Thatcher's intervention in the political row over the 60,000 strong force came after William Hague committed a future Conservative government to pulling British troops out of the new structure.

Earlier, Mr Blair launched his own offensive on "fundamentally dishonest" media claims that the European defence initiative threatened Nato.

He angrily denied that British forces were joining an EU Army.

"There's no question of British troops being put under the control of any foreign government," he said on a visit to Moscow.

When we are at war, we do it through Nato

Prime minister, Tony Blair

Mr Blair insisted it was right to co-operate with forces from other nations on humanitarian and peacekeeping missions.

"We would contribute in precisely the same way as we do for United Nations missions, Nato missions, Commonwealth missions," he said.

The prime minister added that the force would not be used for conflicts.

"When we are at war, we do it through Nato," he said.

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See also:

21 Nov 00 | UK Politics
Tories still missing Thatcher
21 Nov 00 | UK Politics
Blair turns on 'Euro army' critics
21 Nov 00 | Europe
Talks to widen EU force
14 Nov 00 | UK Politics
Minister denies Euro army move
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