Why Brexit is good for Britain's security, and Europe's
The strategic stability of Europe is fundamental to British security. Brexit will not only improve our security by tightening our borders, it will allow Britain to play to its strengths as a global player. Brexit is good for Britain, and good for Europe too
Throughout the EU referendum campaign and now in the years following the result and the negotiations so far, there has been widespread disagreement from both sides as to the consequences Brexit will have for European security.
Those arguing against Brexit have heavily stressed that if we go through with Brexit and move towards the global Britain many aspire to, then the supposedly fragile security of the European continent will come crashing down.
However, in recent weeks we have seen comments from influential and experienced people pointing out that European security is not tied to the EU alone, and we must not capitulate control of our own, world renowned, intelligence services to the EU, as would be the case with Mrs May’s betrayal deal.
The European Union is not the leading security actor in Europe. Much confusion can arise when people link the European Union with European security. This is misleading because while the EU encompasses much of Europe, it is not a major security force within the international system, nor does it represent Europe as a whole.
It is true the creation of the European Economic Area (EEA) and then latterly the EU, was part of a movement to create a framework for securing a peaceful future on the continent through economic co-operation.
Whilst this idea may, very early on, have played a role in preventing war between France and Germany, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is by far the most significant player in European strategic stability. In contrast to NATO and its focus on security, the EU is now a corrupt antidemocratic political union, and, arguably, is a cause of growing instability on the continent.
Vitally, NATO is not affected by the United Kingdom’s decision to Leave the European Union. In fact, with the increased control over our own money - which a good deal or a World Trade Organisation (WTO) Brexit can provide - NATO could benefit should we decide to invest some of the money we currently send to the EU to properly fund our Armed Forces.
Those arguing for a second referendum consistently suggest that Brexiteers want to cut all ties with the EU, and build walls around Britain. Ironically, given our global ambitions, they refer to us as ‘Little Englanders’.
But we have never suggested ending our cooperation with our European allies on things as vital as sharing intelligence on criminal and terrorist organisations. In fact, this commitment to sharing information and finding a deal on vital areas of security has been repeated time and again.
It is in the interests of the European Union and the United Kingdom to come to an agreement on security and intelligence cooperation because the UK is a member of the FVEY (Five Eyes) intelligence gathering network, an organisation no other EU Member State is a part of. (Five Eyes encompasses the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.)
The FVEY group - and the information it gathers - is vital in helping combined European efforts to combat security threats, such as organised crime and radical Islamic terrorist attacks. But as the former head of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove, has underlined, we must not allow ourselves to relinquish control of our intelligence services.
While it is vital, we come to arrangements on sharing information, the UK cannot be duped into an agreement which will lessen our standing within the security community. Furthermore, within the security cooperation section of any deal reached with the EU, there must not be a commitment to provide British troops to serve in EU peacekeeping or offensive missions which may occur in the years to come.
We do not need another mutual defence agreement, as NATO already provides this. The EU cannot replaced NATO, and it must not attempt to do so.
European Security Goes Beyond the European Union and Europe
In the modern world with a massive rise in globalisation, security threats can come from anywhere and emanate beyond the borders of the EU. Many of these challenges - such as organised crime, environmental, economic and political security threats - require an international response and therefore we need to look beyond the protectionist borders of the European Union.
As borders between nation states become increasingly more porous, international organised crime has also increased exponentially, especially in the fields of human trafficking, arms, and the drugs trade.
Brexit gives the UK an opportunity to consolidate its own borders to help reduce the inflow of trafficked human beings, illegal substances and arms.
But Brexit does not stop us from sharing technology and know-how with the world outside. On the contrary. Brexit creates the potential for the United Kingdom to move out and take a lead on matters of European and global security. This will be enhanced once we are freed from the endless red tape which so often supresses a nation’s ability to innovate and lead on such important issues.
Brexit does not shut down European security, but enables us to look beyond simply the EU, thus strengthening the security of the whole European continent.
In conclusion, pay no heed to the scaremongering on security put about by Project Fear.
The UK is not intending to cut and run from its security responsibilities. Far from it. NATO is the centre-piece of European security, Britain is and remains fully committed to it, and the most significant looming risk factor in that regard is not Brexit but the possibuility of a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn.
We remain a dominant force in intelligence; we are a nuclear power; and we are committed to security cooperation in Europe and beyond. Brexit will enhance our ability to do all this.
We need to Get Britain Out of the EU as soon as possible, so we can take back control of our borders, and improve our security. Britain will benefit from this, and so will everyone else.
Joshua Mackenzie-Lawrie, is a Research Executive at cross-party grassroots campaign Get Britain Out
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