A new report was published by the UK Government this week on the impacts on the UK and the UK Government’s preparedness for it.
One section that I found deeply worrying was that on security. In the document it noted that we will lose access to all security protocols in place that keep us safe. Meaning our access to information on criminals would be undermined.
The Minister decided to play the blame game instead of answering my point. What he didn’t tell you was that the UK Government has always been intent on opting out of some of the security measures currently in place because of their ideologically driven red lines. They are undermining our national security and the sooner they realise that Brexit is not an internal Conservative Party game and is a serious policy decision being made for our country the sooner we can have some grown up politics.
Before Parliament was unlawfully shut down, I voted with my colleagues to ensure the release of the Yellowhammer papers. These papers outlined the impact of a no deal Brexit upon the country.
As you know, my gravest concerns for a no deal Brexit have focused on its impacts upon our security and safety. Leaving without a deal means we lose all the security tools our police and security services use on a daily basis. Things like the European Arrest Warrant – allowing us to track down criminals who have fled the country and bring them back to face justice – EUROPOL – which allows us to share information with police forces across the EU – and SIS 2 – the border monitoring software.
In paragraph 10 of the report, which was drafted by Boris Johnson MP’s government, it notes that we will lose access to all of these and it will put us at risk. I asked the Minister responsible for no deal Brexit, Michael Gove MP, if he had made a risk assessment on this. But more importantly if he thought the risk was worth taking.
The Minister provided no solid response.
A cross-party Bill was introduced to Parliament on Wednesday which would allow Parliament to block a no deal Brexit once and for all. It was drafted by my friend Yvette Cooper MP and the Conservative MP Oliver Letwin MP.
I spoke of how we needed to rebuild trust between each other, both in Parliament and across the country, so that we could try and find a solution to the Brexit mess we find ourselves in. Parliament has voted, as have I, time and time again to block a No Deal Brexit this Bill merely makes it a reality.
One MP intervened on my speech to say that the European Arrest Warrant wasn’t that important because he believed that one case undermined its purpose. This is utterly wrong. As a former Minister of State for Counter-Terrorism and Policing as well as a Direct Rule Minister for Northern Ireland I can tell you that any loss of access to these vital tools would undermine our security and safety.
The division was won by a single vote – 313 to 312 and has now meant that the Bill can proceed to the House of Lords.
The Solicitor General was before the Justice Committee this week and I wanted his assurances that we would remain part of the European Arrest Warrant and EUROJUST.
The Solicitor General went as far as to admit that no deal would undermine our safety and security and how the deal before Parliament is simply an aspiration and not legally binding.
On EUROJUST the minister made it abundantly clear that we are huge beneficiaries of it. He pointed out that in 2017 the UK was involved in 82 coordination meetings, coming only second to Germany for involvement and we were involved in at least a quarter of joint investigating teams. This is a vital service that we are set to lose under current proposals.