Leaving the EU would bring only a “low” cost to Britain in terms of national security, according to Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6.
He contradicted David Cameron and Theresa May, the Home Secretary, who have cited co-operation with EU countries on tackling terrorism and crime as a reason to remain in the 28-nation bloc. Writing in “Prospect” magazine, the former intelligence chief said: “Brexit would bring two potentially important security gains: the ability to dump the European Convention on Human Rights—remember the difficulty of extraditing the extremist Abu Hamza of the Finsbury Park Mosque—and, more importantly, greater control over immigration from the EU.”
Sir Richard argued: “Britain is Europe’s leader in intelligence and security matters and gives much more than it gets in return... If a security source in Germany learns that a terrorist attack is being planned in London, Germany’s domestic intelligence service is certainly not going to withhold the intelligence from MI5 simply because the UK is not an EU member.”
Yesterday the two sides in the EU referendum clashed over the Brussels terrorist attacks. Arron Banks, chairman of Leave.EU, said: “There’s virtually nothing we can do to stop every Islamist sympathiser in Molenbeek from setting up shop in the UK if they so choose, provided they can flash an EU passport on their way in. ” He asked: “When will it be time to take our heads out of the sand and hold them to account? After the referendum, when it’s too late to change direction, and we see blood on British streets again?”
Replying for Britain in Stronger in Europe, the Labour MP Dan Jarvis said: “These comments are appalling. We must have a mature and constructive debate about what the attacks in Brussels mean for our security, and what Europe can do to stop anything like this happening again. But they are not an excuse to make political hay out of a human tragedy. To blame the wicked acts of terrorists on immigration is disgraceful.”