Theresa May’s Brexit deal will make the country less safe, as the government has failed to secure access to vital security databases after the UK’s exit from the EU, senior MPs have warned.
The Commons Home Affairs Committee says the political declaration between the UK and EU is “seriously lacking” in detail around security, customs and border arrangements, posing a real threat to the country.
MPs also warned that ministers have failed to agree long-term access to key criminal databases – many of which are currently checked up to 500 million times every year by police and border security staff.
The PM is facing a likely defeat when parliament votes on her deal on Tuesday, which both Downing Street and EU leaders insist is the best on offer.
Committee chair and former shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper urged the government to “stop being complacent” and provide clarity on the full implications of the agreement.
“We are worried about the prospect of a security downgrade as a result of this deal. It doesn’t include the key criminal databases that the police and border force check 500 million times a year to keep us safe. Nor is there a security backstop to make sure that the transition arrangements don’t run out before a new security treaty can be implemented,” the Labour MP said.
“The government isn’t being open about the implications of this deal. Continued police and security cooperation is in everyone’s interest, but there is far too much complacency.
“As it stands, this deal will see us lose access to key criminal databases like SIS II and ECRIS, as well as the European Arrest Warrant, Europol and other tools for security cooperation, without any assurance that we will secure replica arrangements for the future. We know that this would mark a significant downgrade of our security and policing capabilities, and the police have made clear we would be less safe as a result.”
The committee also warned it would be “near-impossible” to get a full new security treaty in place before December next year, because it would need sufficient time to be ratified by all 27 EU member states.
Cooper said: “This deal has no security backstop to ensure continued co-operation once the transition period has ended, and the government still hasn’t even set out a timetable outlining when it wants to see a treaty agreed.
“There is a troubling lack of clarity about what the customs and border arrangements in the future partnership might be, with a wide range of possible checks and controls being introduced.”
The former Labour minister added it was “ridiculous” that MPs were being asked to take a view on the deal without seeing the government’s Immigration White Paper, which was promised more than 18 months ago, but will now be delayed until after the crunch vote.
″[It] will have major implications on UK citizens’ ability to live and work in the EU in future, and on EU citizens’ ability to live and work in the UK,” she said.