Theresa May's stalled Brexit negotiations are putting public safety at 'serious and unnecessary risk'

Dan Kitwood/Getty ImagesArmed police stand outside Manchester Central on day one of the Conservative Party Conference on October 4, 2015 in Manchester, England. Up to 80,000 people are expected to attend a demonstration today organised by the TUC and anti-austerity protesters. Conservative Party members are gathering for their first conference as a party in a majority government since 1996.
  • Lack of progress in Brexit negotiations putting UK public at “at serious and unnecessary risk,” according to MPs.
  • The report said there is a “serious risk” that crucial aspects of security co-operation will end after Brexit because both sides are refusing to budge on their “political red lines.”
  • It said Theresa May should drop her blanket opposition to the role of the European Court of Justice.
  • Labour MP Yvette Cooper, chair of the committee, said the lack of progress was “very disturbing.”

LONDON – A lack of progress in Brexit negotiations is putting public safety “at serious and unnecessary risk,” according to a damning report by British MPs.

The Home Affairs select committee said “political red lines” on both the UK and EU sides were standing in the way of a security deal, and said there was a “serious risk” that crucial aspects of security co-operation will end after Brexit – either at the end of a transition period or as soon as March next year.

It warned that both the UK and EU would face a “security cliff edge” next March in the event of no deal, with serious ramifications for public safety and the ability to stop criminals across Europe. It said the government had failed to put workable contingency plans in place for a no-deal scenario.

Committee Chair, Labour MP Yvette Cooper, said it was “unthinkable” to have no deal on security co-operation.

“The gap between the UK Government and the EU and the lack of progress on policing cooperation is very disturbing,” she said in a statement.

“To have no deal on security cooperation would be unthinkable.

“It would stop the police sharing crucial information on dangerous international criminals, stop border officials getting urgent information on criminals trying to enter the country, undermine investigations into trafficking, terrorism, organised crime and slavery, jeopardise trials and justice for victims, and let criminals go free.

“It would be utterly irresponsible of both sides to fail to secure a deal in this area.”

“The cliff edge will only be delayed”

The report recommended that both sides show more flexibility and make compromises that ensure crucial policing and security cooperation could continue without a significant loss of capabilities.

It said the UK should drop its blanket opposition the European Court of Justice after Brexit and respect its remit in relation to security co-operation – for example, on matters including data protection and extradition.

While the report said that a no-deal scenario, which would see Britain crash out of the EU in March next year, posed the greatest threat to European security, it warned that both sides could still run out of time to secure a co-operation deal even after a two-year transition period.

“Even if the transition deal is agreed, the cliff edge will only be delayed for two years if both sides don’t start to compromise in the interests of public safety,” said Cooper.

“The EU is being far too rigid about preventing the UK participating in important criminal databases. And the UK Government is being far too rigid about the role of the European Court of Justice,” she added.

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