May’s government warns hard Brexit would jeopardise security

File photo. An exterior view of the new Europol headquarters, the alliance of the European Union police and a multinational research organization, in The Hague, The Netherlands 1 July 2011 [Lex Van Lieshout/EPA]

A no-deal Brexit would jeopardise security cooperation with the European Union, Britain’s security minister Ben Wallace will say on Thursday (29 November).

Britain and the EU have pledged to cooperate on security issues through institutions such as Europol and Eurojust after Brexit, although a proposed “operational cooperation” between police and justice systems is vague.

But a no-deal Brexit would be a step back for security co-operation compared to Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposed accord, Wallace will say.

“A no-deal situation would have a real impact on our ability to work with our European partners to protect the public,” Wallace will tell the International Security Expo in London, according to pre-released extracts of the speech.

“This (May’s) deal strikes the right balance to keep everyone safe. It will be an ambitious partnership that ensures we can continue to work with our European partners in tackling our shared threats.”

Britain, along with France, is one of Europe’s biggest military powers and hoped that security would be one of its bargaining chips as it seeks a new relationship with the EU, calling for a defence and security treaty in 2019.

Wallace will say that the political declaration on the framework for the future partnership, which is not legally binding, will see Britain and the EU co-operate on areas like cyber-security, DNA exchange and extradition.

However, Britain failed to win a guarantee of access to EU security databases once it leaves the European Union in the draft deal on future ties, leaving such co-operation open to negotiation.

Britain is reputed for its efficient security services, but the country has suffered its share of terrorist attacks.

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From the beginning of the Brexit talks, London has said security was not an issue that was going “to be traded”.

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Despite the ongoing Brexit talks, in the case of the nerve agent attacks in Salisbury in March 2018, the target of which was Russian ex-spy Sergei Skripal, the remaining 27 EU countries have shown full solidarity with London.

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EU foreign affairs ministers in Luxembourg adopted yesterday (15 October) a new sanctions regime as response to the use and proliferation of Chemical weapons. Russia was not mentioned.

On 11 December, the UK House of Commons will vote on the Brexit deal agreed between Theresa May’s government and the EU. If the deal is rejected, as appears likely, that could increase the chances of a no-deal, or hard Brexit.

More statements warning of the danger of a hard Brexit are expected until the vote.

The Bank of England on Wednesday warned a no-deal Brexit would trigger a financial crisis in Britain, causing the pound to plunge by 25%.

The central bank also said in a report that such a scenario could mean a gross domestic product shortfall of 8.0% in the first quarter of 2019.

Major disruptions in case of hard Brexit are also expected in areas such as air, rail and road transport, telecommunications, international banking and many other.

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