We had the Director of the Serious Fraud Office in front of the Justice Select Committee today. It was a great opportunity for us to remove the heat out of the Brexit debate and shine some light instead.
The Director was able to state that the loss of tools we currently have at our disposal will slow down our processes to track and trace criminals and hold them to justice. As anyone in security and policing will tell you time is always key in getting the best outcome.
Committees, unlike the floor of the House, allow MPs to cross-examine witnesses with a lot more detail. The Committee system is often overlooked but the evidence we gather, like this, should help everyone make a more informed decision on all areas of public life.
During one of the days debating the Government’s Withdrawal Agreement from the EU I was able to raise my concern that the Government have erected the barrier of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) when it wasn’t needed.
For us to have access to the European Arrest Warrant we need to be a member of the ECJ. As my colleague, the Shadow Home Secretary, stated this will prove to be a risky endeavour by the Government.
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.