Brexit security speech
30 Nov 2018 01:54 PM
Minister for Security and Economic Crime, Ben Wallace, yesterday talked to members of the security industry about Brexit.
All of you here will know more than most about protecting the public from the threats we face.
The UK Government cannot act alone in this space and I am sure it will come as no surprise to any of you that collaboration and cooperation between Government and you the security industry are fundamental to keeping people safe.
Security is a dynamic sector with immense opportunities.
In 2017, the value of U.K. security exports sales was £4.8 billion, an increase from £4.3 billion in 2016, moving the U.K. from fifth to fourth largest exporter.
It’s clear to me having just met a few companies on my walk round that the security industry is a key sector for Government, you keep our citizens safe, you provide innovation and your international supply chains create prosperity for the United Kingdom.
For the last two and a half years I have worked side by side with our police, intelligence services and special forces.
I have seen the amazing success they have achieved.
We should be proud that we have men and women working, not for glorious recognition, but for the mission of keeping us “safe”. Whether you were a Leaver or Remainer in the referendum any future EU deal has to have at its core that principle of keeping us safe.
So, when it comes to Brexit my number one concern as Security Minister is how can we maintain our security in an ever more insecure world?
The answer to that question has been found over many years and at the cost of British lives. The terror campaign of the 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s taught us all that partnership working is the key to any successfully counter terrorism strategy.
Whenever a mistake has been made or some intelligence has been missed we find time and time again that it has been a failure of partnership. Intelligence hasn’t shared or partners haven’t been asked to assist.
At the heart of our world leading CONTEST CT strategy and recent Serious Organised Crime strategy is a strong requirement on all to partner at Local, National and International levels.
As Security Minister there isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t see operations whose success fundamentally depends on sharing. Sharing our surveillance. Sharing our intelligence. Sharing our people.
I have seen intelligence from other EU countries that contribute to saving British lives and other countries interdict UK bound terrorists. And we have done the same in reverse.
Only recently key UK information helped foil a plot on mainland Europe.
When you next go on holiday to Spain be under no illusions that the operations that keep us secure at the Airport or the beach are joint operations with Spanish and UK security forces.
Close Allies working together for a mutual benefit.
I have a duty as your Security Minister to preserve those links.
The UK is leaving the EU. But while the partnership with the EU and its Member States must change to reflect our new status, it will endure.
None of us should ever forget that Security is not a competition. It is a partnership. I know from meeting my counterparts around Europe that we all agree that a partnership is in both our interest in keeping Europe safe and I am confident that this final security deal will be confirmed.
The Political Declaration agreed earlier this week underlines this. It confirms the UK and EU’s shared commitment to address the threats we face together through a new, robust and comprehensive partnership.
At the same time, the implementation period set up by the Withdrawal Agreement ensures a smooth transition into a new partnership.
Crucially, it avoids the cliff edge that leaving the EU without a deal would create.
Withdrawing from the security arrangements we use with EU partners in March next year having made no alternative provision would create immediate and lasting harm to both sides and undermine our ability to work together.
It would create an environment where legal barriers impede the work of our law enforcement agencies and police forces – benefitting no-one but those who wish to do us harm.
We know from our history that the UK’s security is bound up with Europe’s security.
That threats to our shared values that begin in Europe can quickly reach the shores of the UK.
And that a mere 20 mile stretch of water cannot protect the UK from 21 century terrorism, serious and organised crime, and cyber attacks.
These are threats that know no borders. We and our European partners need to tackle them together if we are to keep our citizens safe.
That is why the Prime Minister made clear earlier this year that Europe’s security is our security.
And it is also why the deal the UK has reached with the EU is designed to help us sustain that partnership after we exit the European Union.
The agreement we have reached will help us to build the broadest and most comprehensive security relationship the EU has ever had with another country.
In the short term, the Withdrawal Agreement will set up a transition period of 21 months starting next March, and during which we will continue to work with our EU partners through security tools and structures we use now. Our police and our public will see almost no change for the next two years.
The Political Declaration sets out the scope and ambition for the future relationship we and the EU want to have on security post-transition, and which negotiators will use to deliver a legal agreement after we leave in March next year.
The Political Declaration commits the UK and EU to create a framework for continued cooperation with each other.
Cooperation that is mutually beneficial and promotes the safety and security of our citizens.
It commits us to carry on working closely together on law enforcement and criminal justice, to ensure we bring those suspected of serious and organised crime and terrorism swiftly to justice;
To support international efforts to prevent money laundering and counter terrorist financing;
And to enable us to speak and work together to address the root causes of global challenges and combine our efforts against new and emerging threats.
The UK is a global security power, a trusted ally and one of the EU’s closest neighbours.
We bring leading capabilities and expertise in security, the delivery of justice and the fight against crime and terrorism.
We cooperate with European partners on a daily basis, through EU and non-EU channels.
No matter what happens, cooperation through non-EU channels will continue up to EU Exit Day and beyond.
But the EU has brought an added dimension to these relationships.
As members of the European Union, we have been one of the most active member states in contributing data, intelligence and expertise to protect people across the continent.
Pooling capabilities and contributions is vital to our collective ability to confront the shared threats we face today.
We are all aware of the horrifying events that happened this year in Wiltshire, when the Russian state shamelessly carried out a chemical weapons attack on British soil, murdering a UK citizen and leaving many others seriously ill.
This is exactly the kind of event that demonstrates both how unpredictable, and how ruthless, those who pose a danger to the UK and Europe can be.
But just as Russia acted in lawless isolation, so the UK collaborated with our European partners to expose their wrongdoing.
Through close security cooperation, the UK and Dutch governments were able to prevent and expose Russian attempts to penetrate and undermine the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
We demonstrated how effective a joined-up approach can be in countering the threats we face, and amplifying specialist expertise and capability.
And that is exactly what the deal we have reached with the EU will allow us to continue to do so.
We have agreed to a “broad, comprehensive and balanced security partnership” which helps us tackle evolving threats, “including serious international crime, terrorism, cyber-attacks, disinformation campaigns” and “hybrid threats” as well as “the erosion of the rules-based international order and the resurgence of state-based threats”.
And on law enforcement in particular, Para. 82 of the Political Declaration underlines that our future relationship will be “comprehensive, close, balanced and reciprocal”, and seek to deliver “strong operational capabilities”.
The text also includes a commitment that our national security will remain the sole responsibility of the UK, and that we will consult and cooperate on sanctions while pursuing independent sanctions policies.
Most importantly, the future framework sets out the basis for continued cooperation on the law enforcement and criminal justice capabilities that play a vital role in keeping our citizens safe.
We have agreed to continue working together to exchange data, to support operational cooperation between law enforcement authorities, and to support judicial cooperation that helps bring offenders to justice.
And we have already begun to define what that means in practice.
For example, we have now agreed to continue to share passenger name records, which help us disrupt criminal networks involved in terrorism and serious organised crime.
We have agreed to retain streamlined and time-limited arrangements on extradition, to bring criminals to justice quickly no matter where they committed their crime.
And we have agreed to make provision for the fast and efficient sharing of DNA, fingerprint and vehicle registration data, helping law enforcement agencies to quickly investigate and prosecute criminals and terrorists.
Crucially for law enforcement, we will continue to cooperate with Europol and Eurojust, which are vital in helping us to work together.
And we have agreed to examine how best to maintain cooperation in other areas, such as the exchange of real-time information on wanted and missing persons, the exchange of criminal records, and the establishment of joint investigation teams to tackle cross-border crime.
Overall, this deal delivers the broadest security partnership in the EU’s history.
A relationship that recognises that the shared threats we face, our geographical proximity, and our mutual interest in protecting citizens that call for a partnership of unprecedented breadth and ambition.
Of course, there is still a choice to be made. I have spoken today about the importance of close cooperation.
However, if we reject the current deal and go back to square one, this will open the door to far greater uncertainty, increased risk and the prospect of downgrading our ability to protect the public.
If we reach March next year without a deal in place, we will not enter a transition period, and will therefore be locked out of many of the EU security tools that currently help our police, law enforcement and criminal justice partners do their jobs.
Security cooperation would continue but only through non-EU channels, meaning we would be choosing to relinquish the additional operational capabilities that are currently provided by our membership of the EU, and which the transition period and the Future Framework are intended to protect.
As a responsible government, we are obviously doing what we can to put in place mitigations where possible.
But no matter how effectively we prepare, we have been clear that setting aside the capabilities we have developed with our EU partners would take us a step back.
It would not provide the same level of capability as envisaged for the transition period or for the Future Partnership.
And it would risk increasing pressure on our operational partners.
There will be less information available to our border officers and police forces.
It will take longer to track and arrest criminals and all the time putting at risk the cooperation and sharing that we know to be so vital.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is clear that there are enormous decisions to be taken in the days and weeks ahead that will shape Britain’s future, and its security, for generations to come.
The British people voted to leave the European Union.
But we must also leave in a way that keeps them safe. And that means protecting protecting the capabilities that our law enforcement agencies, our police, and our professionals rely on to do their job.
This deal we have reached will restate our commitment to European security;
Remind those who wish to do us harm that we are united in opposing their attempts to undermine us;
And reassure people in the UK and across the continent that we will never compromise on their safety and security.
I have spent many years of my life fighting terrorism – first in the Army and now as the Security Minister.
We are leaving the EU and whatever you think about the other areas that will be affected we must make a deal for the sake of all our security.
We have our borders back, we will have our money and our laws. But above all we need to be safe and I believe that this deal delivers.
Information about EU Exit including the article 50 process, negotiations, and announcements about policy changes as a result of EU Exit