Security cooperation was among top priority issues since Brexit talks kicked off. Over the years, London and Brussels cooperated on multiple security issues and actively exchanged intelligence data that was of crucial significance. But, just like many other things, security cooperation is likely to be largely affected in the post-brexit era.
UK Conservatives have recently voiced concerns over Britain’s loss of crucial criminal databases due to Brexit. As London parted with Brussels, Downing Street was left without access to SIS II, a Schengen system containing data on suspected criminals and missing people. From now on, the UK will have to rely on its own sources when it comes to gaining information on criminals from the EU, and this, according to some Tories, makes Britain more vulnerable in terms of national security.
We spoke with Chris Phillips, the former head of the UK’s national counterterrorism office, a fellow of the Security Institute and the Chartered Institute of Security and Crisis Management, and managing director of IPPSO – International Protect and Prepare Security Office who has explained what the security framework for the UK and the EU will be after a major cut-off between the two parties.
Sputnik: How much of an impact do you think Brexit has had on the UK’s security in particular?
Chris Phillips: It’s been difficult and will be difficult for policing to come to terms with all the different changes. And of course, losing things like the arrest warrant will make a difference. Certainly the use of the passport and flight numbers is very useful for policing. But of course, it’s not just the police in the UK that lose. The Europeans will lose access to a lot of intelligence that the British bring to the table. So these are losses on both sides. But these things can all be solved in the longer term, I believe, with lots of goodwill on both sides.
Sputnik: We’ve seen many terrorist attacks not prevented in Europe, and far less of them happening in the UK in the same period of time. Couldn’t it be argued that a general lack of cooperation is to blame rather than Brexit?
Chris Phillips: I don’t think it’s a lack of cooperation, it’s always difficult when people get under the radar and low-level terrorism is very difficult to stop. The more organised groups have been prevented from committing terrorist attacks. But it’s interesting that often places like Brussels and Belgium, they’ve had problems with people. And the British knew more about the intelligence, about these people, than the local police did. So, there are shortages of information and intelligence. And the UK brings a lot of that to the European table. So the Europeans will be very keen to get back talking with the British again.