Updated: Jan 17, 2021
A group of residents in Uxbridge and South Ruislip have challenged Boris Johnson’s claim that the UK "will have control" over its borders, even if he fails to agree a final Brexit deal with the European Union.
Responding to a private letter from Mr Johnson, the residents, who are members of the local campaign group Harrow and Hillingdon European movement, said:
"[Border security requires many] forms of close cooperation between the UK and its neighbours - so a 'no deal' Brexit at the end of this year would further undermine UK border security”.
Their letter makes special reference to Heathrow Airport which is a crucial part of the UK’s current border regime:
"The airport is, of course, great for business, for tourism and for jobs – but, without a proper UK/EU deal, that border complex cannot be made fully secure".
"That's because, to help make it secure, the UK relies on full access to a whole range of EU police intelligence systems, including the Schengen Information System (which alerts UK Border Force personnel to potentially dangerous individuals) and the European Criminal Records Information System (which has for many years, given the UK access to other European countries’ criminal records databases). A 'no deal' or similar end-2020 'Brexit' could well put that access at risk”.
The Campaign group’s fears are shared by several leading security organisations.
The UK's National Police Chief's Council (NPCC) has written to a senior MP stating that "without a legal [UK/EU] agreement, it could not see how EU member states could continue to share detailed data on the movement of air passengers":
"An inability to access Passenger Name Records would have a major impact for counter-terrorism and serious and organised crime-related matters," wrote NPCC President, Martin Hewitt.
The Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu shared similar thoughts on the BBC's Newscast podcast: "The country would be less safe in a non-negotiated outcome where a security treaty wasn't forthcoming. That's the bottom line".
Boris Johnson is currently negotiating with the European Commission’s Michel Barnier, over a post-Brexit trade deal. They are expected to conclude over the next week.
Cover Photo Credit: Eric Fischer. Licensed under Attribution 2.0