Sir Richard Dearlove
“Quitting EU would help our security”
In a striking intervention, Sir Richard Dearlove, former Head of MI6, has addressed the security implications of Brexit, and concludes that our security would be not only unharmed, but actually strengthened, by leaving the EU.
So far, the battle lines for the debate on security have been fairly clear. The Government insists that being part of the EU institutions, and sharing intelligence though EU channels, contributes positively to our security. Only yesterday, Michael Fallon was repeating that point in a major speech.We need a seat at the top table. We need to share intelligence. And so on. Though as I Tweeted earlier today “Why does Michael Fallon imagine that we could no longer exchange security information with neighbouring countries after Brexit?” It would be in everyone’s interests to do so.
On the Brexit side, we argue that there is no security with open borders, and that Schengen has created free movement for terrorists and Kalashnikovs. The recent tragic events in Brussels seem to support that view.
But Sir Richard opens an entirely new front. He sees our security being positively improved by Brexit. Our borders could be strengthened, and extremists more easily deported. Writing in Prospect magazine, he dismisses Europol as little more than a talking shop, and also condemns it as “a colander” for intelligence. Critically, he insists that our intelligence and security links with the USA would be unaffected by Brexit. (My personal view — given the known concerns of the US intelligence community about the reliability of continental intelligence services, Brexit could actually enhance our transatlantic relationship in this area).
Overnight, Sir Richard has turned security from a stand-off in the Brexit debate to a clear win.
Brussels: “A tragedy of errors”
The press naturally continues to cover the Brussels tragedy in great detail. The Independent dubs it “A Tragedy of Errors”, pointing to a series of unforced errors by Belgian security services that allowed the bombings to take place. One of the bombers had been flagged up as a terrorist suspect by Turkish authorities, but the warning appears to have been ignored. This story rather reinforces Sir Richard Dearlove’s view about the effectiveness of continental security services.
Boris: EU Courts put UK security at risk
Speaking to a Select Committee yesterday, Boris Johnson picked up the security theme. He said that European Courts are preventing the UK from deporting terrorist suspects, and also making proper surveillance difficult or impossible. He insisted, rightly, that leaving the EU was the only way to solve these problems.
Lord Howard: “EU open borders an invitation to disaster”
Former Conservative Leader Lord Howard joins the chorus of condemnation for Schengen and open borders. The arguments are familiar, but Lord Howard gives them added authority. The same report carries a telling quote from UKIP Defence Spokesman Mike Hookem MEP: “Cameron says we’re safer in the EU. Well I’m in the centre of the EU right now, and it doesn’t feel very safe”.
40% of deportations cancelled
The BBC reports that 40% of planned deportations of illegal migrants from the UK are cancelled, and that a key reason is lack of staff to accompany the deportee. This is simply scandalous, and shows we are putting too little resource into the effort. Surely it is cheaper to deport an illegal immigrant than to keep them in detention?
“300 Jihadis on British streets”
The Express headlines “300 Jihadis on British Streets”, citing warnings from former Labour Home Secretary Lord Reid, and others, that returning British Jihadis are an immediate threat. Chillingly, Lord Reid adds that “the terrorists only have to get through once”.
“Trucks full of migrants enter Britain unchecked”
The Times reports that large numbers of migrants are entering Britain unchecked in the backs of lorries. It cites two cases in which 50 migrants were identified in two instances within 72 hours, but one suspects this is merely the tip of the iceberg, and that hundreds more made it through without being found.
The Mail features a full page picture of the moment 26 migrants tumbled out of a truck near the Dartford crossing:
I’m no expert in these matters, but I find it astonishing that we can identify gravity waves from the far side of the universe, but we can’t tell if a couple of dozen immigrants are sitting in the back of a lorry. True, we can’t check every single truck. But we must check more of them, and we must find a technical fix. Less money for Brussels, more for our Border Force, please.
“David Cameron needs more time to think”
Indeed he does. As he jets off to Lanzarote for Easter (what’s wrong with Skegness, for heaven’s sake?), he tells us he needs more time to think. Maybe he’ll come back, and tell us he’s been thinking about Brexit, and that he’s decided it’s the right way to go.