An expert on global security risks and counter-terrorism has said that, contrary to claims by Prime Minister David Cameron, Britain would be safer outside the European Union (EU), not within it. He said that Mr Cameron’s claims were “surprising” considering the renegotiation on British membership had not even addressed national security.
Bruce Newsome PhD, who lectures on International Relations at Berkeley, accused Mr Cameron of “security spin” in the face of a party revolt on the referendum question and knife-edge public polling.
Mr Cameron, he said, was relying on a strategy of “warnings about the ‘risks,’ ‘uncertainty’ and ‘insecurity’ of leaving the EU without proof” as a response to polls which show that the majority of British people do not like anything about the EU, even if they are planning to vote remain.
Polls also show that British people believe sovereignty, democracy and border control would also be improved by a Brexit, Mr Newsome said; a position which he agrees with.
“Any way you cut security, the EU is a net impediment in general, and is undermining border security, national cohesion, transnational security, international security, and democratic security in particular,” he said.
He agreed with pro-EU advocates that the main threats to British security over the last few decades have been transnational in nature, but asserts that the EU overall has contributed to these problems rather than solving them, principally thanks to its policies of open borders and free movement of people.
“The greatest security issues of our time are all transnational: terrorism, organized crime, epidemics — due to globalization and integrationist ideals. The EU is a net impediment to the fight against transnational crime because of the prioritization of national economic self-interests hiding behind the ideals of pan-European free movement.”
Those open border policies have, he said, encouraged record immigration, officially running in excess of 320,000 a year, although Mr Newsome pointed out: “The true rate of immigration may be twice as great as the official rate.”
He added: “Cameron has repeatedly admitted that Britain receives too many immigrants for integration or employment. Yet he came back from Brussels with no deal on migration. Cameron has staked his campaign on support for the EU as it is, including the free movement of people.”
And he explained that the policies also allow criminals and terrorists to move freely between member states, saying: “Transnational security is impossible without border control, as illustrated in November 2015 when Islamic State terrorists gathered weapons and organized in neighboring Belgium to attack in Paris, before returning to Belgium to prepare another assault.”
Yesterday, news broke of the of the capture of one of the main suspects of that Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, in a shootout by Belgian police in Molenbeek, Brussels.
UK Independence Party Defence and Security spokesman Mike Hookem MEP said the arrest proved that the British people would be safer if Britain were a truly sovereign state again.
“127 days after the Paris attacks, the most sought after terrorist in Europe Saleh Abdesalem was caught living within walking distance of the EU Parliament which for weeks has been protected by armed soldiers and extra security,” Mr Hookem said.
“This highlights the flawed belief that the people of Great Britain are safer within the EU.
“This is compounded when just this week we are told less than half of Member States actually share intelligence with each other.
“The safety of the British people is and must be the number one priority of any government and can only be guaranteed by regaining sovereignty and control of our borders whilst talking and having close relations with other independent European neighbours.”
Mr Newsome said: “The EU is not necessary to the UK’s transnational security.
“The day after Cameron’s return from Brussels, former Home Secretary in the Labour government Alan Johnson claimed that “the European arrest warrant” is a “huge” benefit to Britain’s security, without which a terrorist suspect would take years to recapture.
“This is false: EUROPOL is redundant to INTERPOL. Criminals who flee within the EU are lost because open borders provide no opportunities to discover the identity of a fugitive, until he or she carelessly attracts official interest through another crime or a demand on public services.”