This article was first published on Huffington Post.
Scaremongering quotes are now the modus operandi of our Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, who argues European Union membership is vital for our security. Over recent months Hammond has become one of the biggest cheerleaders for the UK to remain inside the EU. This has been an extraordinary U-turn by the formerly Eurosceptic Foreign Secretary, who argued very clearly in 2014 for the UK to leave the EU.
Presumably his change of heart has been due to the Prime Minister allowing him to keep his job on condition he campaigns for the ‘Remain’ side in the referendum. If the EU is so vital for our security and leaving it would irreparably damage our national interests, why did he argue for the UK to leave the EU in 2014? Surely he wasn’t jeopardising this country’s security then!
We believe the UK will be much stronger and safer outside the EU. The Remain camp believes their ace in the pack is the European Arrest Warrant (EAW). The EAW is a system whereby an arrest warrant authorised in one EU country, is valid in all EU countries. This requires each EU Member State to arrest and transfer the person who is subject to the warrant back to the State which authorised the warrant. Overall, this is a sensible scheme, but a similar system can be replicated after Brexit.
However, the EAW does have serious flaws. The UK outside the EU could negotiate a new system without these failings. We currently have 116 extradition agreements with countries outside the EU, including with the pariah state Zimbabwe. Arguing the UK wouldn’t be able to get an extradition warrant after Brexit is a bizarre claim, and one which has no bearing on the reality.
The EAW was criticised in a 2011 report by Fair Trials International which said “they are being issued for minor offences and without proper consideration of whether extradition is proportionate”. Additionally, the warrant may only relate to an allegation, and in some circumstances the accused may have been convicted without even being present at the trial.
Of course we should deport people accused of very serious offences such as murder, but not when there is a spurious claim made by – say – a corrupt policeman in Bulgaria who the accused refused to bribe. There was the case of Deborah Dark, who was arrested 20 years after she had been acquitted for a drugs offence. Also, who could forget the harrowing case of Ashya King’s parents who were ruthlessly pursued under the EAW for attempting to get medical treatment for their child with a brain tumour.
The Foreign Secretary tells us that our security is guaranteed by pooling intelligence. Intelligence pooling will still continue when we are outside the EU, but what we share will always be our decision. We hear there is a move afoot to increase the EU’s role in security affairs – this will jeopardise the UK’s current arrangements, therefore Brexit is the best bet.
Our closest partners and allies are not EU Member States; our closest partners are the nations in the Five Eyes alliance and others in the Commonwealth. New Zealand, Canada, the USA and Australia each have a common law system and a shared history with the UK. This alliance is a world leader, protecting this country where the EU has failed. Some Member States of the EU don’t have reliable systems in place and are open to corruption. If we share our intelligence with some of these countries we might as well copy Vladimir Putin into the email! This could even jeopardise the Five Eyes alliance, as our historic allies won’t want to risk their prized intelligence with an authoritarian regime determined to see the downfall of the West.
In the words of former head of MI6 Sir Richard Dearlove: “Brexit would bring two potentially important security gains: the ability to dump the European Convention on Human Rights – remember the difficulty of extraditing the extremist Abu Hamza of the Finsbury Park Mosque – and, more importantly, greater control over immigration from the European Union.”
The EU often makes grandiose claims about creating peace in Europe. This doesn’t stand up to the briefest analysis. They make this false claim because there hasn’t been a war between any EU Member State while the EU has existed. However, just because something hasn’t happened over a certain period of time, it doesn’t mean a completely unrelated organisation (the EU) has had anything to do with preventing it. The reason we have peace in Europe is because of NATO, nuclear weapons, the lack of a Treaty of Versailles, the spread of democracy and the collapse of imperialism. Peace in Europe has had nothing to do with the EU at all.
Finally, some people argue voting for Brexit would please Vladimir Putin. This is completely irrelevant from start to finish. We shouldn’t simply do something based on what Putin thinks we should or should not do. If Putin gives money to charity, should we give none? If Putin declares war on ISIS, should we support ISIS? The Great British Public should treat the Putin-pleasing argument with the contempt it deserves.
Britain has the best security services in the world. Many have tried to invade us since 1066 and all have failed. We are the nation of Churchill, Turing, Wellington and Nelson. The EU has not kept us safe in the past – despite the ridiculous claims made. We will continue to be safe outside the EU. Don’t let ‘project fear’ scare you into voting ‘Remain’ – vote for democracy, vote to Get Britain Out.