UK Security: the implications of BREXIT in the EU Referendum
23rd June 2016 – a date that is being embedded in the media on a daily basis, not because it is the last day of IFSEC International 2016, but because it is being billed in the Government information pamphlet sent out to all addresses in the UK as: “A big decision, one that will affect you, your family and your children for decades to come”.
There has been much hype in the mainstream press and, really, much of it is just that – hype. Attempts have been made to try and link a so-called BREXIT to so many things that are not directly controlled by the EU. The difficulty is to try and understand which segments of the argument are correct and, from an industry perspective, what effect will either decision have on security and the UK based security industry.
SecurityNewsDesk’s Philip Ingram has taken a look at these arguments, and come up with some interesting and rather worrying analysis…
“It seems the industry doesn’t want an opinion: a “generalism” I know,” said Ingram, “but based on asking a number of senior people from the UK based arms of large national or international security manufacturers, suppliers and specialist providers, as well as seeking the thoughts from many SME business leaders, the consensus from all of them initially was they didn’t want to comment.”
The reason for this was either a conflict of interest between personal views or their interpretation of what a corporate line would be, or, they just were not sure of the arguments one way or another as there seemed to be no substance to what both campaigning groups were putting out.
Neil Passingham, Director of GardPass Cyber Security, a specialist recruitment firm, broke that trend by saying:
“We are undoubtedly in a candidate’s market and Cybercrime is unrelenting. If the UK were to leave the EU then there would be increased uncertainty over data protection legislation changes, free movement, clearance divergence and much more. This has the making for costlier and slower recruitment, indirectly resulting in more security incidents.”
The Rt Hon John Hayes MP who was appointed Minister for Security at the Home Office on 11 May 2015, said that at times ministers had a dilemma between their personal political view on the referendum and their role as a minister. He has publicly stated on his website that he supports BREXIT.
Of note, both the ‘Britain Stronger in Europe’ campaign team and the ‘Vote Leave’ campaign have failed to respond to requests for comment.
“ISIS Support Brexit”
One area of great concern for all is the implications that the EU Referendum will have on the current security situation in the UK. Aimen Dean, billed at the ASIS International European conference and exhibition as “The Spy who came in from Al Qaeda”, a consultant with Idarat Intelligence and ex Jihadist, gave a slightly different perspective.
Dean said, “Recent discussions on a password-protected website used by individuals known to be credible and active ISIS supporters, discussed the EU referendum scheduled to take place on 23rd June 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.”
“The EU referendum date gives a clear timescale and goal,” he added.“I believe ISIS will hope to carry out a major attack ahead of the vote on 23rd June. They will also hope to strike a symbolic event, or at least on a symbolic date, to maximize the propaganda impact. This leaves the group May and the first half of June to act.”
In conclusion, Dean stated: “The bottom line is that, in reality, ISIS support BREXIT.”
At the launch of the UK Security Expo at the House of Commons on Monday 11th April, Admiral Lord West, Baron West of Spithead, was asked by SecurityNewsDesk 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 break up 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 told SecurityNewsDesk, “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.”