Diplomat: Australia Fears U.K. Intelligence Sharing Under a Corbyn Government

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 24: Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Alexander Downer is pictured as he arrives with the Treasurer of Australia Scott Morrison to meet British Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond (L) at Number 11 Downing Street on January 24, 2017 in London, England. Mr Hammond …
Jack Taylor/Getty

Australia’s former foreign minister Alexander Downer has said Australia would wind back intelligence sharing with the United Kingdom if left-wing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn wins on 12 December.

In a searing assessment of Corbyn, Downer said the Labour MP and his leadership team were “unsympathetic to and hostile to western interests” and Corbyn in Number 10 would change the very nature of Australia’s engagement with the U.K.

Downer was Australia’s high commissioner to the U.K. from 2014 to 2018 and a former leader of the Liberal Party. He said he wanted Corbyn to lose the British poll and gave Prime Minister Boris Johnson a 70 per cent chance of success.

“Under a Corbyn government, they will abandon that support for the western alliance and steer a completely different foreign policy and security policy direction to such an extent that I think we would be unwise to continue the intelligence sharing relationship with a Corbyn-led Britain of the kind we have today and have had under Gordon Brown and Tony Blair and so on over the years,” Downer told the National Press Club in Canberra.

“That would have to change.”

In relation to national security, he said a Corbyn premiership would disrupt the “very intimate and important relationship” between Asis, MI6, Asio, GCHQ and the Australian Signal Directorate.

The sharing of intelligence with the U.K. through Five Eyes in particular – an alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the United States – would be reduced.

“We would substantially wind it back. We would have to be very careful what sort of intelligence we shared with the government, we would have to be very careful because of the foreign policy stance of Jeremy Corbyn and the cohorts around him,” Downer said.

“(They have) engaged as friends and allies with people like Hamas, Hezbollah in the Middle East, the Iranians, the Venezuelans and so on as even the Maduro regime and Chavez regime before. These are people who are totally hostile to the traditions of Western security policy.”

Corbyn’s antinuclear stance, evident distaste for U.S. President Donald Trump and “pretty obvious anti-Semitism” would also be problematic along with his tendencies towards Socialist-style economic models.

“If the Corbyn government comes in with its extremely radical economic agenda, a kind of Venezuelan-style, Maduro-style economic agenda, very South American economic agenda, and unfamiliar to any of us here in Australia – I think you would expect a very substantial deterioration in the British economy, and as a result of that, that would put at risk the investments we have … made in the U.K.,” Downer said.

“Great Britain is the second-most important country in security terms in the western alliance” Downer concluded, hinting Australia would therefore be forced to look elsewhere for global security allies.

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