During an interview with LBC radio the Home Secretary stated that he would spend £500million, plus annual costs, on the Northern Ireland border. This was without scrutiny from Parliament or publication of the figures for wider consultation.
It would appear that this number was plucked out of thin air during the interview to ensure a favourable reaction in his bid to be the next Prime Minister. We cannot run our government in this way.
That is why I raised these figures in the House of Commons. The Secretary of State didn’t answer my question and instead hid behind his Minister of State for Security who tells us that the Home Secretary has no recollection of these figures and asked that I write to him.
I have done just that, with a copy of the quotes from the interview. I hope that this will jog the memory of the Home Secretary and we can get some honest answers.
North Wales Police has had central government funding cuts of £31million. This has meant that our local constabulary has had to secure more funding from Council Tax which is a one of the most regressive taxes in the UK.
I asked the Minister for Policing how much extra will local Council Tax have to increase to make up for his cuts to our policing and he stated “…it doesn’t matter if funds are local or national it’s all taxpayers money”. Well, in North Wales the only way to tackle the increase in Council Tax is if the UK Government redistributes wealth from other parts of the UK. It is completely unfair that those with the broadest shoulders are not carrying the greatest burden.
Yet again the UK Government has evaded answering my serious concerns over national security.
During Home Office Questions, I asked the Home Secretary to explain how we will have access to important security instruments, such as EUROPOL, EUROJUST and SIS 2, if the Prime Minister’s pointless red lines on the European Court of Justice stay in place.
The Home Secretary tried to boast that this was not a problem as it was all covered in the political declaration. What he didn’t explain, however, is the political declaration is not binding. It is merely a wish list of things the UK Government want to achieve. As much as the Home Secretary might wish for these things to exist after Brexit day they won’t.
The Government need to wake up, listen to MPs concerns and change direction. Reheating the same old deal does nothing to protect our national security and does nothing to move us on from the mess this government has created.
The Prime Minister has made it no clearer whether we will remain a member of EUROPOL following Brexit and now the Home Secretary has muddied the waters further.
Each time I ask if our police and security services will have continued access to EUROPOL, which enables them to share information on criminals with our European allies, I get no concrete response.
We must remember that there are two parts of the Brexit process before us: the Withdrawal Agreement and the political declaration. The two are inextricably linked, but only one is legally binding. The Withdrawal Agreement contains no international law agreement which will give the UK access to EUROPOL. The political declaration, which can be ignored, talks of ‘wishes’ ‘hopes’ and ‘aspirations’ of continued partnership.
This is not good enough. When pressed again the Home Secretary couldn’t give me any assurances. This is playing with fire when it comes to our national security.