Theresa May Seeks Post-Brexit EU Security Alliance

Photo by Policy Exchange/Flickr

Last Saturday, Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, urged the European Union partners of her country not to let the “rigid institutional restrictions” hinder a wide-ranging post-Brexit security alliance, suggesting that there would likely be “damaging real-world consequences” if one cannot be agreed upon.

During a speech to the Munich Security Conference, May attempted to reassure foreign and security policy leaders on the future commitment of Britain to European security.

She stated: “Europe’s security is our security — and that is why I’ve said, and I say again today, which the United Kingdom is unconditionally committed to maintaining it.”

The government of the United Kingdom has already called for a wide-ranging security treaty with the European Union to make sure that law-enforcement and intelligence-sharing cooperation continue after the Brexit that is scheduled for March 2019. Such a deal would allow the United Kingdom to remain to be a member of the Europol, an EU police body, and keep the use of the European Arrest Warrant, which grants the quick extradition of suspects.

However, it has not been clear what legal framework would underpin such a treaty since Britain says that it will withdraw from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

PM May said that the challenge is to establish together a “deep and special partnership” with the European Union in order to maintain and further cooperation.

She stated: “This cannot be a time when any of us allow competition between partners, rigid institutional restrictions or deep-seated ideology to inhibit our cooperation and jeopardise the security of our citizens.

“We must do whatever is most practical and pragmatic in ensuring our collective security.”

PM May conceded that there is no existing security arrangement between the 28-nation European Union and a non-member that reflects the full depth of the existing relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union. However, she argued that there is precedent in “comprehensive strategic relationships” in fields including trade and that there is “no legal or operational reason” why such an accord could not be reached on security.

“However, if the priority in the negotiations becomes avoiding any kind of new cooperation with a country outside the EU, then this political doctrine and ideology will have damaging real-world consequences for the security of all our people,” May stated, including more cumbersome extraditions and an end to data exchange via Europol.

She stated that a new arrangement must respect both the sovereignty of the European Union and Britain, and the United Kingdom “will respect the remit of the European Court of Justice” when it participates in agencies of the European Union.

Wolfgang Ischinger, the Conference organiser, remarked following the speech of May that “things would be so much easier if you stayed.”

PM May quickly slammed down the idea.

To a quiet room, she stated: “We are leaving the European Union. There is no question of a second referendum or going back on that vote.”