There is an urgent need to reboot security cooperation with the EU in the wake of Brexit deal which has left the UK “less safe and less secure”, a group of former Tory MPs have told Boris Johnson.
The prime minister is being accused of “not being ambitious enough” after his deal shut down access to vital criminal databases, including records of stolen identities and wanted people.
Ejection from the European Arrest Warrant system means “some criminals will not be extradited”, while leaving Europol means the UK will lose crucial influence, a report by trade thinktank the Conservative European Forum (CEF).
The report, led by former Tory heavyweights such as Sir David Lidington and Dominic Grieve and written by a former head of the Bar Council, QC Guy Mansfield, says it is evident that the UK has “lost important tools for tackling crime”.
“Speed is crucial and the loss of real-time access to important databases will have a serious impact on our ability to tackle a host of issues associated with international organised crime,” Mansfield wrote.
Sir David, Theresa May’s former deputy, said: “Criminality today does not respect national frontiers and our security systems must reflect this reality. The UK and EU must now urgently conduct talks to strengthen security cooperation.”
Grieve added: “Every day that passes is storing up problems, as systems run more slowly and with less cooperation between security agencies. The government cannot simply cross its fingers and hope.”
The remarks come after Johnson chose not to pursue a separate security agreement with the EU during last year’s Brexit negotiations.
Leaving the SIS II database of suspected terrorists and organised criminals – checked 603 million times by UK police in 2019 alone – means relying on slower information-sharing after requests.
The UK has also sacrificed the ability to initiate joint investigations through Europol and Eurojust, and EU states will no longer have to extradite their nationals to the UK.
The CEF last month vowed to pressure Johnson to seek to improve the agreement due to problems being faced by exporters and creative artists.
Mansfield, also known as Lord Sandhurst, wrote: “I do not wish to see the UK less safe or less secure as result of our changed relationship with the EU.
“This is not a debate about sovereignty, trade or tariffs. It’s about security and, as a Conservative, I believe that the security of the UK and its citizens must always come first.”
No 10 has said the agreement cannot be reopened meanwhile a new “partnership council” with the EU has yet to be set up.