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Government paper lays bare impact of no-deal Brexit on security cooperation

Protestors outside Downing Street in Westminster, London. Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Britain will lose access to EU databases used by police to track terrorists and criminals in the event of a no-deal Brexit, according to an official analysis.

The paper provides the most detailed Government assessment to date of the potential impact on security and law enforcement ties if no agreement is struck.

UK agencies would no longer be plugged in to systems for exchanging a raft of data including criminal records, alerts on wanted suspects, DNA, fingerprints and airline passenger information.

Extradition requests would take longer, while cooperation on counter-terrorism, cyber security and illegal migration would be affected.

The assessment, published by the Department for Exiting the European Union, said: "A no deal scenario would not provide the same levels of capabilities envisaged in the deal scenario - many of which would require formal agreements with the EU - and would risk increasing pressure on UK security, law enforcement and judicial authorities.

"In the event of no deal, the UK would no longer have any access to EU data platforms, or have guaranteed channels for obtaining law enforcement information."

If an agreement is not reached, there will be no implementation period after the UK formally departs the bloc in March.

The paper said: "This means that any operational cooperation that relies on EU tools and instruments at the point of exit, would stop.

"This would create immediate legal and operational uncertainty with the risk of operational disruption and potential security implications."

Under the terms of the draft agreement, the two sides have committed to establishing a "broad" and "comprehensive" security partnership.

But in a no deal scenario, Britain would face losing access to:

- A scheme for sharing air passenger data such as names, travel dates and contact details
- The Prum system, which facilitates fast exchange of DNA and fingerprint data
- The Second Generation Schengen Information System (SIS II), which circulates millions of law enforcement alerts in real time
- The European Criminal Record Information System, which enables automated exchange of criminal record data

The assessment also flagged up the potential impact on cooperation in a number of "thematic areas".

On efforts to counter terror and violent extremism, it said: "In a no deal scenario, it would be harder for the UK and the EU to work strategically to tackle these evolving threats."

Effective action on illegal migration would be more difficult with no formal arrangements in place, the paper added.
It made clear the Government would seek to "mitigate the effects of a no deal scenario on the UK's security".

In a "deal scenario", operational cooperation will continue largely as it does now during the implementation period, the analysis said.

Labour MP Yvette Cooper, who chairs the Commons Home Affairs Committee, said: "This assessment makes clear the substantial security risks from no deal, but it does absolutely nothing to tell us what the security risks are in the Prime Minister's deal. This isn't being honest with everyone."

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