Security Co-operation

Exiting the European Union – in the House of Commons on 27th June 2019.

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Photo of Scott Mann Scott Mann Conservative, North Cornwall

What recent discussions the Government have had with EU representatives on maintaining security co-operation after the UK leaves the EU.

Photo of Kwasi Kwarteng Kwasi Kwarteng The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

I assure the House that we continue regularly to meet our counterparts from across the EU and its member states on a number of issues, including our security relationship after the UK leaves the EU. The political declaration sets out a shared UK-EU commitment to a comprehensive future security partnership. That partnership will include close co-operation on law enforcement, criminal justice, foreign policy, defence and cyber-security.

Photo of Scott Mann Scott Mann Conservative, North Cornwall

Given that we do not know what our future relationship will look like at this moment in time, can I seek assurances from the Department that, in the event of a clean break from the European Union, we will be seeking mutual co-operation on matters such as security?

Photo of Kwasi Kwarteng Kwasi Kwarteng The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

I assure my hon. Friend that that is absolutely the case. We have a long history of co-operating with our partners in Europe and are working closely with many of our EU partners on Europe’s key defence challenges through capabilities such as Typhoon, A400M and Meteor.

Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (International Trade), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union)

According to Mr Barnier, a no-deal scenario would represent

“a break in the level of talks…risks to intelligence pooling…
inconsistencies in applying sanctions regimes”,

and would leave the rules of co-operation with Europol and Eurojust still to be determined. Given the risks that no deal would present to our security, is the Minister happy that both of the Tory leadership contenders crow about their willingness to deliver no deal?

Photo of Kwasi Kwarteng Kwasi Kwarteng The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

Of course, I have always championed the deal and the right hon. Gentleman has voted against the deal three times. In the case of no deal, we will absolutely co-operate with our EU partners, including through making use of Interpol and the Council of Europe conventions. For example, on extradition, we would rely on the Council of Europe’s 1957 European convention on extradition. There is huge scope for co-operation, even in the event of no deal.

Photo of Gregory Campbell Gregory Campbell Shadow DUP Spokesperson (International Development), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

Does the Minister agree that we must increase our level of security on the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, given the threat that dissident republicans pose? In the knowledge that we are now moving to a position where hopefully we will leave in a few short months, we need to be exceptionally mindful of that security risk to all our citizens.

Photo of Kwasi Kwarteng Kwasi Kwarteng The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

We are absolutely mindful of the risk that the hon. Gentleman describes. He knows that the Government are fully committed to ensuring that the dark days of the 1970s do not return to Northern Ireland.

Photo of Paul Blomfield Paul Blomfield Shadow Minister (Exiting the European Union)

I see that yesterday the Minister tried to mitigate fears about a no-deal departure by saying that it

“is not a world war.”

That might be an insight into his thinking, but is “less damaging than a world war” really a benchmark for success? Does he agree with the Security Minister, Mr Wallace, who said:

“A no-deal situation would have a real impact on our ability to work with our European partners to protect the public”?

Photo of Kwasi Kwarteng Kwasi Kwarteng The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

I appreciate the hon. Gentleman’s questions, as always, but I would like to point out that he has wrenched my comments completely out of context, and they were made not yesterday but on Monday. I was merely echoing what the former Governor of the Bank of England, the highly respected economist, Mervyn King, has said about our GDP growth since 1800. On an annualised basis, there would be very little impact, even in the case of no deal.