Diane Abbott MP: You can’t expect coup plotters to uphold the law or promote order

Posted On: 
22nd September 2019

The wider effects of Tory cuts have exacerbated the causes of crime. We need a genuine end to austerity as well as a well-resourced police force, writes Diane Abbott MP

Police officers in Downing Street
Credit: 
PA

Whenever we get a new Tory prime minister, a great deal of effort is expended on telling the rest of us that they are not really right wing – just a one nation Tory at heart, after all. Boris Johnson’s new cabinet is so right wing he has taken to making this propaganda on his own behalf. No one else believes it. Certainly not even all the Tory (and now former Tory) MPs.

It should be crystal clear that this Government only has one policy, and everything else is subordinate to that. It intends to crash out of the EU with no deal. Parliament has passed a law to prevent it, and yet this prime minister says he will not comply with the law. That is not remotely the action of someone trying to avoid no deal.

We also know, from a host of European officials and politicians, from Tory MPs and even the prime minister’s principal adviser, that the talks are not meaningful and that they are a sham.

Because no deal has no majority, either among MPs or the wider public, Boris Johnson has attempted a coup against Parliament. There is no sign that he has either recanted or relented in that plan.

As with other departments, the entire spectrum of Home Office policy is also subordinate to no deal. Nothing, not even the unresolved Windrush scandal, the reckless uncertainty being inflicted on the EU 3 million, and certainly not the crisis of policing and the rise of serious and violent crime is a genuine priority.

In fact, this Government’s policy, borrowed from its predecessor, will undoubtedly undermine the fight against international crime and international terrorism. Crashing out with no deal means ripping up all the arrangements, the joint intelligence operations, the database access and the information sharing that we have developed with the other EU member states.

As a result, the tools available to us to tackle international crime and terrorism will be severely limited. Worse, the axing of the European Arrest Warrant means that there must be at least some risk that those criminals and terrorists might try to use this country as a safe haven from justice in other jurisdictions.

To avoid that, Labour has long argued that we need a new comprehensive security treaty with the EU, which would cover these areas and much else besides under new international law. But there is no suggestion that this Government is even considering it.

This omission belies the Government’s claim to be a law and order administration. It is not even unambiguously committed to upholding the law itself.

It was these same politicians who cut more than 20,000 police in the first place. They have caused the crisis in policing. As many senior officers have pointed out, the Tory cuts in areas such as health and in social care have only added to the pressures on the police. The police and the NHS have, between them, become the public services of last resort.

It is also true that the wider effects of austerity have exacerbated the causes of crime; everything from cuts in schools, to zero hours and zero hope jobs, to cuts in drug programmes and in mental healthcare funding.

This Government does not intend to do anything about that. Instead, it is engaged in a cynical, one-time pre-election spending spree. Contrary to reports, this is very similar to the one David Cameron and George Osborne organised prior to the 2015 general election. They followed that with spending cuts, having won the election. I for one do not expect anything better from a Boris Johnson-led government. All of this accompanied by photo opportunities for a pound-shop Trump.

This country needs a genuine end to austerity, lowering the causes of crime, and a well-resourced police force that is free to do its job properly. Only a Corbyn Labour government will deliver that.

Diane Abbott is Labour MP for Hackney North & Stoke Newington and shadow home secretary