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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Ex Nato chief warns of terror threat from failed Brexit

Anders Fogh Rasmussen says cooperation could end hours after Britain leaves the European Union with time running out on planning a complex deal

Former Nato secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen has warned that terrorists and traffickers would have free rein to operate across Europe if Britain fails to negotiate a post-Brexit deal for continued cooperation with the European Union. Laurent Dubrule/ Reuters
Former Nato secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen has warned that terrorists and traffickers would have free rein to operate across Europe if Britain fails to negotiate a post-Brexit deal for continued cooperation with the European Union. Laurent Dubrule/ Reuters

Terrorists and traffickers would have free rein to operate across Europe if Britain fails to negotiate a post-Brexit deal for continued cooperation with the European Union, the former head of NATO warned on Wednesday.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the complex web of shared intelligence, cross-border police work and sharing databases would be ended within hours if Britain decided to end all involvement in EU structures on March 29, 2019.

Prime Minister Theresa May has sought to enshrine the date in legislation and warned MPs that Britain would leave with or without a deal on future cooperation.

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“Put bluntly, without a deal the UK and Europe face the possibility of homeland data flows, and police and judicial cooperation, being turned off within hours,” said Mr Rasmussen, the former secretary general and prime minister of Denmark, wrote in The Guardian.

“This would give free rein to terrorists, traffickers and organised criminals, and both sides must prepare now to prevent such an unthinkable scenario materialising.”

Britain is a major contributor to Europol – the EU intelligence sharing body – and a Briton heads the organisation. It also has the biggest defence budget in Europe and well-regarded police and intelligence agencies, said Mrs May in a speech in September.

Mrs May, a former long-serving minister responsible for policing and security, proposed a far-reaching security deal between the UK and the EU during the speech in Florence, Italy, aimed at kickstarting stalled negotiations on the terms of Britain’s departure.

Despite her intervention, the talks have remain stuck over issues including how much Britain will pay to leave the union, with MPs warning that time is running out to sort out more complex issues such as future trade deals and security.

Mr Rasmussen warned that the complexity of systems put in place to allow information like DNA, fingerprints and flight details will mean any security deal would take time to complete.

“If the UK is unable to conclude an exit agreement, causing it to fall out of the EU, it can fall back on World Trade Organisation rules for trade,” he wrote. “However, there is no fall back for the habitual cooperation in our fight against terror.

“Both sides must begin prudent planning now to avoid giving succour to our enemies.”