Brexit will make London less safe unless government acts on security concerns, says Sadiq Khan

by Dave Hill

Sadiq Khan has said that Londoners’ safety will be put at risk unless the government pays more attention to the security implications of leaving the European Union in its Brexit negotiations.

At his monthly Mayor’s Question Time session this morning, the London Mayor told London Assembly Members he doesn’t believe there has been “enough discussion around the security arrangements post-Brexit” or that “the government has been taking it seriously and prioritising it.”

Answering questions from Labour London Assembly Member Unmesh Desai, the Mayor described Brexit as “a national challenge facing policing and our security services,” and listed “six key measures” he wants the UK to remain part of after Brexit, including Europol, the European arrest warrant arrangement and the Shengen Information System 2 (SIS2)

He said that the government’s negotiating position was putting the UK’s current terms of inclusion these systems at risk and could result in slower, less efficient and more expensive access. “The inevitable consequence [of that] will be Londoners being less safe, and I refuse to believe anyone voted for that.”

Mayor Khan said he had been given “a full presentation by the expert who leads on this for the Met police” and offered as examples of “what we’d lose” the automatic searching of the SIS2 database 539 million times by law enforcement personnel and the arrest of “1,735 criminals” using the European arrest warrant, both during 2017.

As a “third party” state, you can’t have access to these beneficial systems “on the same terms”, the Mayor said, citing confirmation of this by Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator on the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU. He explained that the Metropolitan Police Service is working with the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the National Crime Agency to establish a team to “drive and co-ordinate Brexit contingency planning for UK law enforcement”.

Earlier in the MQT session Mayor Khan told the Assembly he had written to Prime Minister Theresa May last week “to warn her that the government’s White Paper completely fails to meet the needs of our leading service sectors, which represent 92% of our economy in London” and that his concern is “shared by many business leaders” in the capital.

“There is no doubt that the kind of Hard Brexit the government is now proposing will throw up new regulatory barriers and damage the ability of our world-leading creative and financial services to do business across the EU,” he continued, and claimed there is now a “grave risk” of leaving the EU “with no deal at all” could lead to “nearly 90,000 fewer jobs in our city.” The Mayor added that he had instructed City Hall officials to make preparations for such an outcome.

The Mayor’s criticism came with the government’s new secretary of state for exiting the European Union, Dominic Raab, in Brussels to meet Barnier for the first time. Mayor Khan underlined his wish for the UK to remain in the single market and customs union in order to “protect jobs and growth.”

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