Brexit would undoubtedly lead to a loss of British influence, undermine Nato and give succour to the West’s enemies, former Nato secretaries general have warned.
The five Nato chiefs wrote that they have been watching the EU debate with growing concern as the Euro-Atlantic community needs an active and engaged UK to meet the challenges to peace and stability "we face collectively".
Writing in a letter to the Telegraph, the secretaries general wrote: "The EU, with its 500m people and significant economic power, is a key partner for Nato. The imposition of sanctions on Iran and Russia, led from within the EU by Britain, has been a striking example of the importance of this union for our security. So has the work the EU is doing in the Balkans, in tandem with Nato, to help stave off instability in that region.
"At a time of such global instability, and when Nato is trying to reinforce its role in Eastern Europe, it would be very troubling if Britain ended its membership of the EU.
"While the decision is one for the British people, Brexit would undoubtedly lead to a loss of British influence, undermine Nato and give succour to the West’s enemies just when we need to stand shoulder-to-shoulder across the Euro-Atlantic community against common threats, including those on our doorstep."
The comments come after Boris Johnson, a prominent Leave politician, said that it was Nato that had secured peace in Europe, not the EU, which had become "a force for instability and alienation".
And 13 former US secretaries of state and defence and national security advisors also warned in The Times that Britain must not bank on its "special relationship" with the US to compensate for losing global influence by leaving the EU.