UK ‘less safe’ without Brexit deal, says police chief

Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said he was 'confident' that government had listened to his no-deal concerns.

UK ‘less safe’ without Brexit deal, says police chief

The U.K. will be “less safe” if the British government and the EU fail to reach a deal on their future relationship post Brexit, said Neil Basu, the country’s most senior counter-terrorism police chief.

Speaking to the BBC’s Newscast podcast Basu, who is an assistant commissioner with the Met Police, said that a deal on security should “either retain or improve on the current position” that the U.K. has today. As an EU member, U.K. police had access to intelligence sharing databases to help catch suspects and draw links between crimes in different countries — an arrangement that has continued during the transition period — but such cross-border cooperation is threatened by Brexit.

With negotiators still deadlocked on a Brexit deal and time running out, there are increasing fears that an accord will not be reached. Major sticking points such as fishing access to U.K. waters and the extent to which London must align with Brussels regulation in future remain. They could torpedo a trade deal but also scupper an agreement on other other key issues such as security cooperation.

When asked about the challenges of no deal on the post-Brexit security relationship, the police chief said “the country will be less safe in a non-negotiated outcome […] that’s the bottom line.”

“We made it very clear that we need as much time to negotiate those agreements with our European counterparts as possible [and have been] very clear to the government right from the start of this process and I’m confident they had listened to our concerns,” he added.

There are 42 days remaining until the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31 but both sides need time to ratify any agreement. The talks have extended well beyond a deadline of the October EU summit and hopes of reaching a deal before a videoconference of EU leaders on Thursday evening have also been dashed. Negotiators are now aiming to reach a deal early next week.