Five days of debate has now started over the Government’s Brexit Withdrawal Agreement. This is the nearly 600 page document agreed between the UK Government and the EU nations. It is the legal basis for us leaving the EU.
Accompanying the document is a shorter ‘political declaration’. It is not legally binding and includes a wish-list of what the UK Government wants to secure in a future relationship with the EU. Neither of these documents detail how the UK will retain access to key security tools used by our police and security services.
The Home Secretary stumbled over his answer. Obviously knowing that the Government was not seeking to retain these vital tools. Let us be clear, the Government is undermining our security with their agreement and I cannot support it.
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.
At Committee Stage of the EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill 2016/17, I intervened on the speech of former Immigration Minister, Mark Harper MP, on the implications of devolved administrations on leaving the EU.
I pointed out to Mr. Harper that in some issues, such as policing which is devolved in Northern Ireland and Scotland, it is only right that a consensus can be reached as to the future relationship with the EU. As I have noted before EUROJUST and EUROPOL are but two areas where the devolved administrations control of policing will mean that they will have an opinion on if they wish to remain a member of these institutions.
The Government backbencher could not provide an adequate response. Instead skating around the issue because of a fear of undermining his own sides argument that devolved administrations, like the Welsh Assembly, should not be involved in the decision making process. Something I strongly believe should happen.
There are still another two days in Committee of the full House and I will continue to intervene and vote for new clauses and amendments that protect the interests of Delyn and the UK more widely.