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Security and Brexit

Thursday 29 November 2018

AS SECURITY Minister Ben Wallace discusses how Brexit will impact security in the UK, Dr Dan Lomas, an expert in intelligence and security at the University of Salford, says the plans are just the start of a negotiating position and not the final deal.

Dr Lomas said: “Ben Wallace has claimed that a no deal Brexit scenario would impact on UK security, pushing the government line that Theresa May's vision for Brexit is the only deal on the table. 

“But the real problem is that May's vision for post-Brexit security arrangements is a negotiating position not the done deal. As with trade, security is up for negotiation, despite what the Government told MPs after the withdrawal agreement was agreed almost two weeks ago. 

“Writing to Conservative MPs, the Prime Minister said her agreement set out 'arrangements for effective data exchange on Passenger Name Record data, DNA, fingerprints and vehicle registration data, alongside extradition arrangements' and the 'timely exchange of information and intelligence'. But this is only short term - there is no concrete deal, as Wallace suggests, just an aspiration to work together. The nitty-gritty still needs to be worked out. 

“The political declaration on the withdrawal agreement says that both the EU and UK 'should establish a broad, comprehensive and balanced security partnership countering 'international crime, terrorism, cyber-attacks, disinformation campaigns, hybrid threats'. Rules for passenger information, vehicle recognition, fingerprinting and DNA are part of the plan, but it's just a plan still. The UK's continued membership of Europol is still up for negotiation as part of the deal. Frankly, it's misleading of Wallace and others to say that Theresa May's plans give us any form of certainty, they don't - it's the start of a negotiating position. 

“Certainly the European Arrest Warrant operates for the remainder of the transition period and UK law enforcement will continue to have access to the European-wide Secure Information Exchange Network Application (SIENA), but what next even if the withdrawal agreement is agreed? The withdrawal agreement suggests that the UK can buy into EU-wide systems at the end of the transition period, but that's in the future. 

“Britain will continue to be a net exporter of security intelligence to Europe. Britain's existing bilateral intelligence exchanges between the Security Service (MI5), Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) and Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and their European opposites will continue, working above EU arrangements, while exchanges will also continue with our European NATO allies. Threats such as cyber-security, terrorism and other states (especially Russia) will continue to be discussed by European intelligence agencies above EU arrangements, and officials have been keen to stress that our European allies will have access to UK information. 

“In short, there is no security deal - as the government would like you to think. Security remains part of the wider negotiations on the political and economic ties to Europe post-Brexit. What the arrangement will finally look like is anyone's guess.” 

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Sam Wood

0161 295 5361