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Implications of EU Exit on Policing and Security

Questions to the Mayor of London – answered on 6th November 2019.

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Photo of Unmesh Desai Unmesh Desai Labour

Does a no-Deal Brexit risk making Londoners less safe?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

Chair, a no-deal Brexit risks the safety and security of our citizens by removing access to vital intelligence from European partners and our ability to bring offenders to justice. The default no-deal position which we will have while we negotiate new processes is grossly inadequate. The costs of no deal are mounting even before no deal has happened. If it does, it has been estimated that police forces will be expected to pay up to £22 million to cover the impact. This money would have been better spent on front line policing.

I am increasingly concerned that this Government is pursuing its ruinous no-deal Brexit at any cost. There are reports from an unnamed source at No 10 that, and I quote,

“Defence and security co-operation will inevitably be affected if the EU tries to keep Britain in against the will of its Government.”

Effectively holding these vital issues as a bargaining chip is outrageous. It shows the Government is willing to jeopardise the security of our citizens to drive through its agenda.

One of the many policing and security benefits of working with the EU has been cross-border co-operation, improving the safety of Londoners. National policing experts have already warned that losing access to the European Arrest Warrant and Europol would make it harder to keep track of terrorists and serious organised criminals.

Photo of Unmesh Desai Unmesh Desai Labour

Thank you, Mr Mayor. You said earlier this morning that - and I agree with you - there is a link between Brexit and policing. On Tuesday, Sir Stephen House [QPM], the Deputy Commissioner [of Police of the Metropolis], gave us examples of how Brexit, particularly a Brexit not planned for, would actually affect policing in a very practical sense. We do know that dangerous offenders do cross borders. In crimes such as modern-day slavery, indecent images of children and counter-terrorism operations, organised criminal networks operate across the globe. The MPS works with the National Crime Agency and bodies such as Europol as part of these investigations. In fact, Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu [Senior National Co-ordinator for Counter-terrorism Policing] said that a no-deal Brexit would “create an immediate risk that people could come to this country who were serious offenders, either wanted”, or people who we do not know about. Can you tell us, how concerned are you that serious criminals will actually seek to capitalise on the no-deal Brexit? Do you agree with Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu that there will be some damage to safety? I quote him again, “I can’t put a scale on the damage to our safety”.

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

Absolutely. Some Members of this Assembly claim to be pro-police yet ignore the police when they give advice about the consequences of a policy they are pursuing. Let us be clear. Expert police officers have advised the Government that following this scenario, leaving the EU without a deal would mean some of the tools they need to keep us safe they will not have. What has been the response from the Conservatives? Ignore the advice from the police and continue down the road of a no-deal Brexit. You have heard from the Deputy Commissioner. You have heard from the Head of Counter-Terrorism. If you listen to the National Crime Agency, if you listen to most senior police officers who know how this stuff works, they will tell you that we will be less safe and less secure if we have a no-deal Brexit. Any alternatives will be much clunkier and will be more expensive and will lead to more delays.

Photo of Unmesh Desai Unmesh Desai Labour

I was going to ask you a question about the article in The Spectator but you already referred to it. Don’t you think it is, quite frankly, irresponsible to use language such as in that article that, “Everything to do with ‘duty of sincere co-operation’ will be in the toilet”? This is actually what the article says about what is the threat, that we use national security as a bargaining chip in the negotiations with the EU.

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

We now know this Government is willing to use EU citizens as bargaining chips but also willing to play fast and loose with our security and use security as a bargaining chip. It demonstrates how shameless these people are.