Labour MEPs: Exit from Europol and defence agencies just the latest examples of danger of Tory Hard Brexit

Britain’s departure from Europol and the European Defence Agency is the inevitable result of the Tory Hard Brexit the UK is heading towards, a Brexit that will diminish our safety and security at home and influence abroad, Labour MEPs warned this week following Michel Barnier’s comments.

The European Union chief Brexit negotiator said Britain will have to leave the EU law enforcement and defence agencies, lose all decision-making powers in EU foreign and defence policy and be unable to take command of EU-led operations or battlegroups.

Barnier also said the UK will also no longer have a seat on Europe’s political and security committee, a high-level gathering of ambassadors, and the British defence secretary will no longer take part in EU defence minister meetings.

Claude Moraes MEP, chair of the European Parliament civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee, said:

“Europol plays a crucial role in targeting cross-border crime and combatting terrorism, and is vital for Europe’s safety and security – it is deeply worrying, though hardly surprising given the direction in which the government is taking us, that Britain will now have to leave the agency, with potentially dangerous consequences.

“This week alone, Europol warned that increased cooperation with technology and social media companies is vital to tackle the growing threat of drug trafficking on the dark net; revealed that organised criminals were using surveillance technology to monitor victims; and coordinated efforts by European law enforcement agencies that uncovered $36 million in illicit money transfers – resulting in 159 arrests – as part of a crackdown on so-called money mules.

“The UK also faces losing access to law enforcement databases, such as the Schengen Information System, our access to which is critical for fighting organised crime and terrorism.

“The impending exit from Europol is also a sign of Britain’s loss of influence. The director of Europol, Rob Wainwright, and the EU security commissioner, Julian King, are both British, but leaving the EU will result in us going from leaders in this field to followers without a say.”

Clare Moody MEP, vice-chair of the European Parliament security and defence committee, added:

“Today’s confirmation from Michel Barnier that a Tory Hard Brexit will result in our departure from the European Defence Agency is the latest example of the diminution and danger that we face outside the EU.

“At a time when we need to be standing tall with our allies and leading the fight against the common threats we face in this age of great uncertainty, we will lose our seat at the top table where decisions on EU defence and security will be made, shrinking into isolation and risking irrelevance.

“Theresa May could have avoided this by pushing for a Brexit deal that would enable us to remain part of these vital agencies. Instead, by pandering to the Brextremists in the Tory Party, she is driving Britain over the cliff towards a bleak and dangerous future.”