par Liam James Burton
The debate around Britain’s exit from the European Union was generally framed around ideas of sovereignty, economics, and red-blooded patriotism. This is a short and incomplete arrangement of a few ways that Brexit could negatively affect the UK’s security situation.
The simplest first. The economy has already been damaged by Brexit and will continue to be so. This is the view of key economic organizations and one could speculate also the view of the sitting Conservative government given they have still not publicly released their own economic assessments of Brexit. The fears are an larger economic downturn hitting a nation that has already implemented strong austerity measures. Historically, economic downturns increases unemployment and public discontent. Academia has shown that having large numbers of unemployed males under 25 creates domestic security concerns – let us not forget that three of the four 7/7 bombers were British born.
Policing and Data sharing
Greater Manchester police had its budget cut by £180m since 2010, affecting staffing, workloads and community outreach and interaction. This came to the public interest in the wake of the bombing of an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester earlier this year. With economic uncertainty budgeting will likely fall only further given the past policy practices of the incumbent government. Additionally, EU member states pooled information on potential terror suspects and information on those entering the shared border area, the list holds around several thousand individuals. The UK will lose immediate access to this without a post-Brexit deal.
The Bigger Picture
From the Norman Conquest of 1066 until the ascension of Spain to the EU in the 1980’s there was never a time where the great Western and Central European powers were unified on the same team. Most of Britain’s history can be viewed as military conflict with either France, Spain, or a Teutonic power. The lengthiest period of peace in Europe’s history now has a fracture. Britain on the outside; pulling in a different direction to its neighbours. A divided Europe is a weakened Europe.
Despite other areas of Blair-Brown foreign policy rightly receiving criticism- their success in Irish peace is one to be commended. However, this is another area where security concerns will likely flare up. A border between Northern Ireland and the Republic is inevitable after Brexit and will throw a match into a powder keg that many assumed was dry. Borders filled with checkpoints, military, and passport checks will bring back unwanted memories from The Troubles.
Whilst the focus was on other topics, the vote to leave the EU has increased the likelihood negative outcomes for the security of the British state. Perhaps if the debate had been framed around security – the outcome would have been different. These are only a handful of security issues – what have I missed? What areas concern you?