The Prime Minister returned to the House of Commons today in a hope of selling her Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.
From the very beginning of this Brexit process I have said that leaving the EU without access to EUROPOL, EUROJUST and the European Arrest Warrant will put our safety and security at risk. Indeed, the Prime Minister noted in her reply that I have often pressed her on this issue.
The Withdrawal Agreement is so thin on the ground when it comes to security arrangements that I wanted assurances that we would continue sharing security systems after we leave the EU and not merely shadow them. Without access to these databases our police and security services will be greatly undermined.
The Prime Minister pointed to the political declaration saying that we will work together to “identify the terms”. This means that there is no agreement but merely the hope of achieving something. Also, unlike the Withdrawal Agreement the political declaration is not legally binding so all words contained within it are meaningless.
The first role of government is to ensure the safety and security of its citizens. This Withdrawal Agreement fails this test.
There are many reasons for voting against the Government’s Brexit strategy but this for me is one of the biggest. That is why I will vote against the Withdrawal Agreement when it comes to Parliament in December.
An Urgent Question was granted on police funding and I wanted to see if we could get a straight answer from the minister on cuts.
We were told austerity has ended, but the Red Book – which details the Budget’s spending – stated that the Home Office will be cut by £100,000,000 next year. If the UK Government can’t say where these cuts are going to fall we must all be worried that they will hit our neighbourhood police officers the hardest.
If the Government do not properly fund our law enforcement agencies, like security services and the police, properly we will see crime continue to rise.
I got my opportunity to respond to this year’s Budget this week. In my speech I addressed my deep concerns about the continued austerity under the UK Government and their utter failure to support the people and businesses of North Wales.
It is clear that this was a Budget that included more harm than help for people in work. It continued to cut away at our police, justice and international trade budgets and did nothing of value to unpick the hurt inflicted by Universal Credit cuts.
I called on the Policing Minister to ensure that the police have the resources they need to do their job. The chronic under-investment of the police has meant more officers are being used on overtime and this costs the taxpayer far more than through employing more officers.
The minister made two disingenuous points. The first was that I’m in denial over “economic reality”. I can tell the minister in no small terms that the banking crisis was not caused by Labour’s investment in local neighbourhood policing or education it was caused by the greed of a few in international finance wrecking the global economy. The second point made by the minister is that the UK Government have invested in policing this year. That is simply not true. We have seen a 20% cut in policing budgets in North Wales since 2010.
The Government simply doesn’t get it. Crime is rising because police officers are stretched. Continued failure to invest in our police will undermine our safety.