Brexit Security Opinions: Stronger In or Take Control? A view from senior positions
The Brexit debate is occupying a huge amount of political and media time and it is difficult to find any real substance between the Vote Remain and Vote Leave camps. Philip Ingram, SecurityNewsDesk, has had some success talking to various very influential people about Brexit – but combined with that success there has been real frustration.
The frustration: The main frustration I have found is trying to get a coherent comment from the Brexit camp. They have been formally approached through their press office -silence; they have been approached directly at the Business Show in London where they had a stand, and though stand members promised comment and contact from a spokesperson, all there has been – is silence.
Then there was a conversation with the Rt Hon John Hayes MP who was appointed Minister for Security at the Home Office on 11 May 2015.
In a recent article in the Daily Telegraph published on 9th June he concluded: “Rooted in the same beliefs as David Cameron, I have reached a different conclusion from the man I admire. The ‘One Nation’ Tory choice is to vote leave.” This is all well and good when written at his desk, but when asked in person by Philip Ingram for a comment on his views for publication, he made a startling comment that can only be described as fence sitting, “as a minister I have to back the government line but my personal views are well known.”
I asked Admiral Lord West, Baron West of Spithead, what he believed the impact of the EU Referendum on the UK security industry would be? His reply summed up the whole issue very succinctly: “To be quite honest, I don’t think there will be a difference to the UK Security industry if we stay in or get out.”
“However, I do believe there will be issues with the security of our nation if we leave. And the reason is not because it will make a difference to defence, because NATO is the key there, but actually I think Europe is very flakey and there is a real risk of bits of Europe breaking off. The breakup of Europe is proven not to improve the security of our nation – twice in the last hundred years we have had to go and fight, and lose huge numbers of men, because it has broken up and gone into chaos.”
Of the impact on the security industry he said, “I don’t think in terms of sales or the security industry, to be quite honest, it will make a huge difference either way. Saying that, some of the multinational companies will have to watch how they operate if we did leave Europe.”
When asked whether he felt it would be better to stay in or leave, Lord West said, “I think it is best to remain in Europe – that is, if we change Europe. It has gotten so many things wrong, this is true, but we can only change it from the inside.”
When asking Victor Chavez, CEO of Thales UK about the Brexit implications for Thales UK and their newly launched Cyber Security and Consulting service, his reply is typical of all of the large defence and security manufacturers. He said, “From a Thales perspective we have written to all of our colleagues in the UK to highlight that we think Brexit would create very significant uncertainty. If you look at us as a business we have a very extended supply chain to Europe and for a people perspective the free movement of people is important to us as we have significant numbers of British personnel working in locations across Europe and European engineers working here in the UK.”
Brian Song, Managing Director of IDIS Europe, the innovative Korean surveillance systems manufacturer, told SecurityNewsDesk in a recent interview that “Brexit would cause real difficulties in so many areas; let’s take logistics”, he said. “At the moment we send one shipment from Korea to Europe by sea, it goes to Rotterdam, gets customs cleared for the EU and all import taxes are calculated and then is broken into smaller shipments and delivered all over Europe, including the UK.”
“If the UK were to leave the EU then we would have to send 2 shipments, one to Europe and one to the UK, it would mean 2 sets of customs clearances, and increased costs that would have to be passed on. The UK market is difficult enough at the moment, why make it worse?” He added, “due to skills shortages, many of our customers rely on qualified personnel to come in from Europe to be able to competently complete installation tasks, if that couldn’t happen then business would be affected.”
Finally in a very unique insight we had the chance to see some conversations between senior ISIS commanders as they discussed the referendum and what they would like to happen.
These recent discussions, on a website used by individuals known to be credible and active ISIS supporters, discussed the EU referendum in the UK and agreed that a major strike should ideally take place before then so as to influence the average British voter into voting to leave the EU. They say this because those involved see the EU as the ‘Big Crusader Project’ and Britain leaving could break the project, or at least significantly weaken it.”
Aimen Dean, an ex Jihadi and British spy stated: “The bottom line is that, in reality, ISIS support Brexit.” It seems that Lord West’s fear is that our current greatest terrorist threat wants to influence.