LibLink: Brian Paddick: If we value our national security, we will avoid a hard Brexit

A couple of days before Theresa May’s ill-judged ultimatum in her Article 50 letter over trade and security, Brian Paddick wrote for the Guardian about how hard Brexit could damage our security. That’s right. If Theresa May gets her way, we will be less safe.

He started off by talking about last week’s attack at Westminster in which 4 people, PC Keith Palmer, Aysha Frade, Leslie Rhodes and Kurt Cochran were murdered. How do we balance the need to keep Parliament accessible with the safety of those in and around it?

That security must be balanced with an obligation to keep parliament open to the people. We shouldn’t turn Westminster into Fort Knox, even if such a thing were possible. But we can improve security, for politicians, staff and, crucially, police on the frontline.

Those officers are not armed. Armed support is a distance away. No one wants an ostentatious display of force, which would only increase that sense of alienation many feel about “Westminster”. But this attack shows, alas, that armed officers should be directly behind that frontline. Otherwise lives will be lost that could be saved. In this attack, I gather, it was only because a minister’s armed close protection officer happened to be close by that the assailant was stopped.

While millions are spent on surveillance powers and the security services, over the past six years £1bn has been cut from the Metropolitan police budget. That’s huge.

He went on to talk about how a hard Brexit could compromise our security effort both in cost and co-operation. 

Apologies for being “so Lib Dem”– as the anti-hard Brexit party – but if we avoid a Brexit that will cost the public finances £100bn, we could afford better security, while also working closely with our friends across the Channel through the pooling of intelligence and the European arrest warrant. I struggle to see how you can have a hard Brexit and safer streets.

The government’s plan to collect and store all our web histories for a year is expensive, ineffective and disproportionate. The creation and maintenance of this system is likely to cost over £1bn, money that could be better spent restoring police numbers in our community.

Whether it is working with communities or other intelligence agencies, we should work together. Terrorists want division, and we should not be so foolish as to give it to them. Let us remain open, tolerant and united.

You can read the whole article here.

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One Comment

  • “Apologies for being “so Lib Dem”– as the anti-hard Brexit party – but if we avoid a Brexit that will cost the public finances £100bn, we could afford better security”

    I’d love to know how he’s so certain that Brexit will cost the public finances £100 bn. The reason so few people believe politicians these days is because all sides use figures that are little more than a guess.

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