Theresa May’s Brexit deal would make Britain less safe

Vince Cable and Liberal Democrats on Europe March 2017

To try and sell a plan that would rob us of many vital cross-border crime-fighting tools on the basis of national security takes quite the brass neck.

Consider the European Arrest Warrant. It enables us to bring criminals who’ve fled our shores back to justice in the UK, as well as to extradite thousands of others to face justice in other European countries.

In Europol, British leadership has helped take out criminal gangs engaged in modern slavery, child sexual exploitation and cybercrime. And direct access to EU crime databases lets our police and Border Force officers identify and arrest traffickers, terrorists and other international criminals.

All of these would be lost under Theresa May’s deal. Only if the Government and the EU can agree a new security treaty before December 2020 would we retain some unspecified, weakened form of these vital crime-fighting tools.

There is no ‘backstop’ for police and security service co-operation

Yet negotiators have euphemistically described such a deal as “particularly challenging”. And if they fail, there is no ‘backstop’ for police and security service co-operation.

Theresa May used to understand the importance of this co-operation. Back in 2014, the then-Home Secretary described the European Arrest Warrant as “a vital tool for ensuring that justice is done in this country and for keeping the British public safe.”

She warned that, without it, the UK would become “a honeypot for all of Europe’s criminals on the run from justice”. But that’s exactly the status she wants to inflict on us.

The Tories’ insistence that we leave the jurisdiction of the ECJ makes that impossible. ‘It can all be worked out during the transition period,’ they say. It can’t.

The UK would become “a honeypot for all of Europe’s criminals on the run from justice

Theresa May expects us to trust her ability to square these circles over the next two years – despite her complete inability to make any progress on them over the last two years.

When the Prime Minister asks MPs to approve her deal, she’s asking us to bet the safety and security of the British people on her negotiating prowess.

That’s simply not a bet I’m prepared to make.