, 22 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
My @OpenEurope colleague Stephen Booth has taken a look at claims made by former Mi6 head Sir Richard Dearlove & ex-CDS Lord Guthrie

There are reasons to be sceptical about the PM’s Brexit deal, but the ones they raise are both implausible & misplaced

Here's why -

A thread 👇
2/ In the debate on the proposed Brexit deal, the implications for UK security & foreign policy have come a distant second to economic and institutional considerations.
3/ However, this week Richard Dearlove & Charles Guthrie wrote to Conservative Associations warning that the Brexit deal will “threaten the national security of the country in fundamental ways” and bind the UK into “new sets of EU controlled relationships”.
4/ Successive governments have cooperated selectively with the EU in security & foreign policy, reflecting concerns about direction of travel or degree of integration. The UK secured opt-outs from EU law enforcement & internal security integration.
5/ Brexiteers cited ECJ erosion of these protections as justification for withdrawal. Nonetheless, matters of external security, defence & foreign policy were largely protected by our veto. And UK successfully used this to prevent EU ambitions eg for an autonomous military HQ.
6/ At the root of Dearlove/Guthrie's concerns about the proposed deal seems to be a fear about what *might* happen, rather than what the Withdrawal Agreement actually says. It is true that, during transition period, the UK will be bound by EU foreign and defence policy decisions.
7/ The UK may be consulted, but we will have no formal role shaping these decisions & won't be able to lead resulting operations. However, throughout the transition, UK can refuse to apply EU decisions for “vital & stated reasons of national policy” – we have a de jure veto
8/ The UK will be bound by existing EU rules on police and judicial cooperation during the transition, but will be excluded from new rules that fall under our existing law enforcement and Schengen opt-outs. The transition will last till 2021 (or at the latest end of 2022)
9/ If/when the UK enters Backstop, there is no agreed provision for UK-EU security & foreign policy cooperation. UK commitments under EU law & Withdrawal Agreement fall away. The basis for cooperation would need to be negotiated separately or via a comprehensive UK-EU partnership
10/ Dearlove/Guthrie then claim “buried in the Agreement is the offer of a ‘new, deep, & special relationship with the EU ....”, which would undermine the UK’s 3 core security & foreign policy relationships with NATO, our US bilateral agreements & Five Eyes intelligence sharing"
11/ This warning presumably refers to the joint UK-EU Political Declaration on the framework for the future partnership. (As the critics themselves reveal it is an *offer*)
12/ First, as many critics of deal point out, the Political Declaration is not legally enforceable, unlike the Withdrawal Agreement. It does not bind the UK

Indeed, the Political Declaration's lack of legal enforceability is the typically-cited reason for those opposing the deal
13/ Second, the relationship foreseen in Political Declaration is impossible to reconcile with claim that it would undermine UK’s core security relationships.
14/ The declaration states that the entire future relationship should provide exceptions for matters of national security, which is the “sole responsibility” of the UK and the EU’s member states respectively.
15/ The UK could “participate on a case by case basis” in EU-led security and defence missions and be consulted accordingly. Intelligence sharing would be “voluntary” and the parties would “produce intelligence products autonomously”.
16/ The UK and the EU would pursue “independent sanctions policies driven by their respective foreign policies”. None of this would compel the UK, or the EU, to do anything at all with regards to external or security policy, other than keep the other party informed.
17/ Finally, it is unclear what, if any, form of cooperation with EU the authors of these warnings would find acceptable. There is no doubt that past & future UK governments would rank the three core relationships with NATO, bilaterally with US & Five Eyes, as the most important
18/ However, successive governments also acknowledge that the UK must also promote its interests, both offensively and defensively, with European partners and allies. The UK has close bilateral relations with Europe’s only other globally-relevant military & defence power, France.
19/ Leaving the EU is likely to mean the UK will not be able to formally shape, lead or veto EU foreign policy or defence decisions in the future. This is a direct consequence of Brexit. Equally it means we will not be directly bound by them.
20/ You can argue the EU is being short-sighted in only offering UK take it/leave it cooperation on security & foreign policy. This may change. If EU wants UK cooperation, our ability to provide resources & capabilities is of immense value & therefore provides us with influence
21/ Nevertheless, it will be up to future governments to work out how to further UK foreign policy interests independently of & sometimes in cooperation with EU. Nothing agreed to date would prevent UK from refusing to take part in EU-led or “controlled” initiatives

As Stephen concludes "There are many valid reasons to be sceptical about the Brexit deal. My judgement is that, on balance, it is worth supporting. But the concerns raised by Sir Richard and Lord Guthrie don’t stand up to scrutiny."

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