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Major Incident in Essex

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:43 pm on 28th October 2019.

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Photo of Joanna Cherry Joanna Cherry Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Justice and Home Affairs), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 3:43 pm, 28th October 2019

I thank the Home Secretary for her statement and for advance sight of it. Like her, my thoughts, and those of my colleagues in the Scottish National party, are with the families of the victims, who it seems are far away and desperately trying to gather information about what might have happened to their loved ones. It is very difficult to fathom what it must be like to lose a loved one in such dreadful circumstances. I also join her in paying tribute to the response of the emergency services. I would like to express my concern for their wellbeing, given what they have seen.

I associate myself with what the Home Secretary said about the gross immorality and inhumanity of people smuggling. I will speak about the specifics rather than this case, as it is an ongoing investigation. As the shadow Home Secretary said, an international trafficking and smuggling network can only be broken up through international co-operation. I know that the Home Secretary recognises that. She will also recognise that the European Migrant Smuggling Centre, which is a part of Europol, has been at the heart of this inquiry and of other inquiries into similar tragedies. A Europol source has been quoted as saying that the investigators at Europol are:

“working around the clock trying to put together the pieces of the puzzle.”

I know the Home Secretary is keen for us to support the deal to leave the European Union, but that deal does not adequately address what plans the Government have to work with those vital EU institutions in future. It simply will not do to say that America has a relationship with Europol, because America is not in Europe—we are.

The UN’s trafficking envoy has said that withdrawing from Europol and Eurojust could curtail the UK’s ability to conduct the transnational investigations required to dismantle smuggling networks. Does she accept that leaving the European Union will make such investigations more difficult? If not, will she take this opportunity to clarify, in a way that she was unable to do before the Home Affairs Committee last week, what relationship she thinks the UK should have in the future with those institutions following Brexit?