In Brief

UK to be kicked out of Europol after Brexit

Michel Barnier dismisses British hopes of staying in the European police agency

Britain will be forced to leave Europol after Brexit, the EU’s chief negotiator has told a security conference in Berlin.

 Michel Barnier accused the UK of abandoning the defence of Europe at a time of increased threats from terrorists both foreign and domestic, citing recent attacks in France, Belgium, Germany and the UK.

“Never had the need to be together, to protect ourselves together, to act together been so strong, so manifest. Yet rather than stay shoulder to shoulder with the Union, the British chose to be on their own again,” he said.

His comments will come as a blow to the UK Government. It has long said it wants the country to stay in Europol, which shares criminal intelligence data between EU police forces, and keep other EU security benefits such as the European Arrest Warrant and shared criminal databases.

The UK will also leave the European Defence Agency, The Independent reports, and “UK defence ministers and ambassadors [will] be excluded from international meetings with EU colleagues”.

In September, Theresa May vowed “unconditional” support for EU defence after Brexit, and the Home Secretary Amber Rudd said she hoped a “new legal framework” could “lock in” British access to Europol for years to come.

Politico reports that ministers view the UK’s military strength and security and intelligence expertise “as one of the country’s strongest hands in the Brexit negotiations”. Yet they appear to have once again underestimated the EU’s resolve, meaning the UK could find itself in a security limbo after March 2019.

Labour seized on the development, blaming the Government’s “inflexible approach” for delivering “a huge blow which threatens vital national security cooperation and risks critical information falling between the gaps”.

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