MQT on 2017-12-14
Session date: 
December 14, 2017
Question By: 
Andrew Dismore
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


EU negotiator M. Barnier, in his recent Berlin speech on 29th November, said : "…Defence and Security Union will have to be developed without the British, since on 30 March 2019 the United Kingdom will, as is its wish, become a third country when it comes to defence and security issues...The UK  …..will no longer be a member of …. Europol … Everything I have just said is the logical consequence of the sovereign choice made by the British." 

What does this mean for security for Londoners, against organised crime and terrorism?


Answer for Europol

Answer for Europol

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I have been very clear that - alongside the majority of Londoners - I believe that Britain would be better off and safer remaining in the European Union (EU).  Despite this, I accept that the public have voted to leave and we will now have to make the best of this decision.  This makes me determined to ensure that no compromises will be made over public safety throughout the Brexit process and I am clear that ‘no deal’ on complex security issues is simply not an option.


This is why I set out six red lines to the Government which are crucial for continued co-operation on security and counterterrorism with European partners.  These include our continued involvement with the EU Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol).  Europol enables vital intelligence-sharing to help combat serious crimes including terrorism, money-laundering and human trafficking.  There are many cases where Europol and Eurojust have been instrumental in bringing people to justice.  I am therefore concerned that Michel Barnier, the EU’s Chief Negotiator, has made clear that, as far as he is concerned, the UK will no longer be a member of Europol.


We need to get some clear agreement from the Government on the complex issues at hand to establish how we are going to continue co-operation with the EU on matters of security.  This is why I have written to the Home Secretary on this matter specifically.  It is imperative that the Government secures the same level of co-operation and security in the negotiations.  Otherwise, our police will be fighting these crimes with one arm tied behind their back.  The Government is not providing the assurances necessary and its failure to grip the situation could put our critical security apparatus at risk.


We need urgent answers about how the Government plans to ensure continuity of vital security arrangements and we need them now.


Andrew Dismore AM:  Thank you for that answer.  Do you agree that Europol, as indeed do all your six security red lines, provides a way for Member States to co-operate and enables vital intelligence-sharing to help combat serious crimes like you mentioned - terrorism, money-laundering, human trafficking - but that Michel Barnier is right as a matter of law that non-EU Member States cannot be members of Europol because Europol is only for EU members?  The head of MI5 was warned that the UK is facing the most severe terrorist threat ever and the Metropolitan Police Service’s (MPS) National Co-ordinator for Counterterrorism Policing, Assistant Commissioner (AC) Ball, has said:


“If we were to exit Europe without replacing it with at least as good a system for information and intelligence-sharing and working together as currently exists, it would be a risk I would be concerned about.”


Given that the European Court of Justice plays a key role in overseeing data protection laws including through Europol that the experts giving evidence before the [House of] Commons Home Affairs Committee all agreed that accepting any possible Europol access would be predicated on guarantees that the case law of the European Court of Justice is respected by the UK, and also given that the House of Lords EU Committee found that the National Crime Agency took the view that the types of arrangements that have thus far being made to allow third countries to co-operate with Europe or from outside the EU would not be sufficient to meet the UK’s needs, all of these are real matters of concern.  It is right - and I think you would agree - that the Government really does need to get a grip on this very quickly.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, when describing no deal on justice and law enforcement, used the word “unthinkable” and I think she spoke from her expertise as the Home Secretary, understanding the huge co-operation that takes place between various EU countries.  The UK uses more of the services provided by Europol and the other cross-EU justice agencies than any other country.  It is crucial that the police and the experts receive the reassurance that they need during the transition period and that, once we left the EU, we will have equivalence to what we have now.  The alternative is criminals and terrorists having a better deal then than they have now.


Andrew Dismore AM:  That is important because I am not sure if you are aware that at a meeting of the Police and Crime Committee a Conservative Member tried unsuccessfully to persuade Assistant Commissioner Martin Hewitt that a no-deal Brexit would not be a problem for our security.  Do you agree that with the consequences of a hard Brexit or heeding the demands of hard-line Brexiteers on issues like the European Court of Justice, the Government really would be risking the security and safety of Londoners?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  It is worth reminding ourselves and reminding laypeople what this European co-operation means.  It means vital intelligence-sharing.  It means the ability to extradite.  It means real-time information in relation to alerts.  It means the UK Border Agency being able to check watchlists.  It means the UK being able to access criminal records throughout the EU.  It means us being able to access DNA profiles, fingerprints and vehicle registrations.


The question to ask yourself is: if you are a criminal or a terrorist, do you want the UK having access to all of these things or not?  In my view, a hard Brexit benefits criminals and terrorists.


Andrew Dismore AM:  Thank you.