'Reckless' post-Brexit security curbs could increase terror risk, Sajid Javid warns Brussels
Sajid Javid has called on EU countries to maintain close security ties with the UK following Brexit or risk regretting a future attack which could have been avoided.
The Home Secretary said the European Commission’s "hardline" stance of insisting that Britain holds third country status after Brexit was "wrong and reckless".
Specifically citing the Europol joint policing agency, Mr Javid warned both sides would "lose out" if Europe and Britain failed to maintain the level of partnership they have now.
Laying out the Government's latest counter-terror strategy in his first major speech since taking over as Home Secretary last month, Mr Javid said there were clear splits on the issue in the corridors of Brussels.
"The European Union is not speaking with one voice on this. Nothing unusual about that,” he said.
“The Commission has got its hard line on so many things. It’s negotiating, you would expect a bit of that.
“But one thing that is absolutely clear… I’ve met with a number of European interior ministers, who are my equivalents and every single one that I’ve met, they’ve absolutely agreed, they not only want the cooperation to continue as it is, but they also are open to how can we make it even deeper.”
He added: "When the British people voted to leave the European Union, they were not voting for us to stop working with our European allies to keep everyone safe.
"So it would be wrong and reckless for anyone to advocate any unnecessary reduction in this cooperation."
Mr Javid pointed out that the bloc already relies heavily on British intelligence and said EU ministers risked weakening their own country’s security by lessening UK involvement.
“They rely so much on the intelligence information we provide them, and there’s not going to be a single European interior minister that, if we weren’t cooperating as we did today, would want to explain after an attack how it could have been stopped if the British had still been involved, perhaps with some secret intelligence.
“And obviously the benefits are both ways. We all benefit. And that is very easy to see.”
Despite the Commission’s stance, the Home Secretary said he was “confident” that the UK would get a deal to maintain close security ties.
Elsewhere, Mr Javid revealed plans for MI5 to declassify and share information on UK citizens suspected of sympathising with terror groups.
The Home Secretary said “key” information would be shared with bodies including the police, councils and the Charity Commission as part of a trial scheme in some English cities in a bid to shut down any “safe spaces” for terror suspects.
He saiud greater cooperation could lead to "faster alerts for suspicious purchases, improving security at crowded places across the UK, and reducing the vulnerability of our critical infrastructure".
But Corey Stoughton, Advocacy Director at human rights charity Liberty, branded the strategy as a “regurgitation of failed thinking”, which was “heavy on soundbites, light on substance”.
She added: “The Government continues to use dangerously vague definitions of extremism to tarnish communities, encourage policing by prejudice and press service providers and local authorities into becoming unwilling and untrained agents of the security services.
“Yet again they attack encryption and talk up data analytics, while offering no actual proposals and no explanation of how our privacy and cybersecurity will be protected.
“If and when they come up with something concrete we will be scrutinising it closely.”