The EU is split on post-Brexit security cooperation, the UK home secretary has said, as he introduced a new government counter-terrorism strategy with an appeal for Brussels to focus on maintaining strong links.
Sajid Javid, outlining the approach, called Contest, in a speech in London, said it would be wrong and reckless for either side to seek a reduction in security and terror cooperation after Brexit.
After the speech, Javid said the European commission was seeking to treat the UK as a third country, and that interior ministers he was meeting took a very different view.
Security links have been one of the more contested areas of Brexit talks, with Theresa May facing resistance from some in the EU over her desire for a new treaty on cooperation. Officials have also said the UK should play no future part in the joint Galileo global satellite positioning project.
After a speech that focused on what he said was a growing threat from both Islamist and far-right terrorists, Javid said the UK had made it very clear it wanted to replicate current security ties after Brexit. But he said of the European commission: “I don’t think they’ve really focused on it yet.
Actually the European Union is not speaking with one voice on this – [though] there’s nothing unusual about that. The commission’s got its own hard line at the moment on so many things, and it’s negotiating we’d expect that.
But one thing that is absolutely clear is that, although this is only my fifth week in the role, I’ve met with a number of European interior ministers, who are my equivalents … and every single one that I’ve met, they absolutely agree they not only want the cooperation to continue as it is, but they are also open to how we can make it even deeper.
Saying he would see more of his peers at a meeting in Luxembourg later on Monday, Javid said they were all clear about the value of UK intelligence in cross-Europe security.
There is not a single European interior minister that would want to explain, if we weren’t cooperating as we are today, after an attack, how it could have been stopped if the British were still involved with intelligence, he said.
If a better deal was not reached, the UK and EU nations would all lose out, he said.
There’s nothing in there that suggests that someone is guilty of some kind of offence or they’ve done something wrong, he said. They’re not going to be on any criminal records, or police records. That’s a very clear safeguard.
Asked after the speech who could do more to help prevent terrorism and radicalisation, Javid identified tech firms, saying he was about to meet some in Silicon Valley.
They are doing a lot more, but that said, they can also still really push what they’re doing further, he said, singling out smaller social media sites such as the messaging app Telegram.