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UK and EU will both be worse off without a Brexit security deal, diplomat warns

File photo dated 22/10/18 of a European Union flag in front of the Elizabeth Tower. Theresa May's flagship Brexit legislation is "constitutionally unacceptable" and will need to be substantially rewritten, an influential group of peers has said. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday January 29, 2018. Peers have raised concerns about the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill ahead of a debate on Tuesday. The peers said the Bill was "fundamentally flawed" in multiple ways and risked "undermining legal certainty". See PA story POLITICS Brexit Lords. Photo credit should read: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

By Sam Lister, Press Association Political Correspondent

Britain should stop looking for bespoke security arrangements with Brussels and try to tweak "off the peg" options instead, the UK's last European commissioner has indicated.

Sir Julian King, who is responsible for security issues, said both sides needed to find a way of "talking to and not past" each other.

Working out a future economic relationship between the EU and UK will be "quite tough" because there will be winners and losers, but everyone will be worse off if an agreement is not reached on security, he warned.

Sir Julian told the Lords' EU Home Affairs committee Brussels shied away from calls for "bespoke" agreements.

"If we are going to make progress, I think it's also important that we, both sides, find ways of talking too and not past each other," he said.

"We need to find the right way to engage on some inherently difficult issues.

"The European Union, perhaps because of its nature, tends to think in terms of precedents and it can sometimes react to suggestions that you start afresh with a completely blank sheet of paper or that everything needs to be bespoke."

He said it was a "good idea for us to get on" quickly with discussions about making progress on security cooperation.

"The EU often prefers to alter something off the peg rather than start from scratch," Sir Julian said.

"It's difficult to ignore the EU's legitimate desire for strategic autonomy in some aspects of security and defence."

He added: "For the UK the challenge is to find the right basis for cooperation with EU structures and programmes rather than perhaps appearing to seek, from an EU perspective, to change the nature of those structures and programmes."

Sir Julian said there were a number of "hurdles to clear" but warned without an agreement on security "we have a situation in which we are all a little bit worse off".

But he refused to be drawn on what would happen if a deal was not reached.

"I don't think we should be projecting ourselves into that scenario too easily," he said.

Pic by Victoria Jones/PA Wire.

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