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'What?': Theresa May shows disbelief at Boris Johnson's post-Brexit security plan

May asked senior Tory minister Michael Gove what the post-Brexit security plan for the UK was, and didn’t like the answer he gave.

Image: House of Commons

FORMER BRITISH PRIME Minister Theresa May poured scorn on her successor Boris Johnson’s post-Brexit security commitments as she warned of the dangers of a no-trade deal scenario to anti-terrorism attempts.

The former Tory leader repeatedly said “what?” in disbelief at senior Tory minister Michael Gove’s response to her question about how the UK will be expected to boost its security measures when outside the EU.

Gove claimed there are “many, many areas” in which the UK can co-operate “more effectively” to protect its borders outside the EU “than we ever could inside”.

It was at this part of his response that prompted May’s reaction of disbelief, where she appeared to mouth “utter rubbish” at his reply. 

Speaking in the Commons, May warned: “The government appears resigned to the prospect of no deal, yet one area which they should not be resigned to the prospect of no deal is in security.”

May said neither Gove nor Johnson had mentioned security in recent statements.

Addressing Gove in the House of Commons today, she added:

Will my right honourable friend confirm that, if the UK walks away with no deal, then our police and law enforcement agencies will no longer have the necessary access to databases, such as PNR [passenger name record],in order to continue to identify and catch criminals and potential terrorists in order to keep us safe?

Gove said “significant progress” has been made over security co-operation, and made three main points, the second of which prompted the reaction from May:

It is the case that the EU are insisting that, before we have access to systems, like the Schengen Information System, we have to accept the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice – we cannot accept that.

“The second thing I’d say is there are many, many areas in which we can co-operate more effectively to safeguard our borders outside the European Union than we ever could inside, through a variety of methods and arrangements open to us, open to Border Force and open to our security and intelligence services – we can intensify the security that we give to the British people.

“The third thing I’d say to [May] is that I agree with her: when it comes to everything, security and other matters, no deal is better than a bad deal.”

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‘No deal is better than a bad deal’ had been one of Theresa May’s mantras during her turbulent tenure as British Prime Minister.

Once used as a threat to force the EU’s hand into giving in to some of the UK’s demands, May later ended up as a proponent of a Brexit draft deal, which contained the controversial ‘backstop’, that was rejected by the House of Commons three times.

After Boris Johnson won a majority for the Tories in a general election last year, the draft bill, with some changes, was passed and ratified by Westminster, allowing Brexit to officially happen on 31 January this year. 

With reporting from Gráinne Ní Aodha

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