EU Referendum

Quitting EU would make Britain SAFER, says former MI6 chief: Sir Richard Dearlove suggests Brexit would make it easier to deport terrorists and control our borders

  • Former head of MI6 demolished the security case for staying in the EU
  • Sir Richard Dearlove said Brexit would make it easier to deport terrorists
  • Added British intelligence services ‘give much more’ than they get in return
  • Washington was a more important counter-terror ally than the EU, he said
Safer out of the EU: Sir Richard Dearlove
Safer out of the EU: Sir Richard Dearlove

Sir Richard Dearlove said Brexit would make it easier to deport terrorists and control our borders.

He added that Europe could not turn its back on Britain if it left the EU because our intelligence services ‘give much more’ than they get in return.

In any event, Washington was a more important counter-terror ally, he said.

The former spy chief also dismissed suggestions that Brexit would harm our relationship with the US and likened the EU’s various intelligence bodies to the ‘leakiest ships of state’ and colanders riddled with holes.

David Cameron and other senior ministers have relied heavily on claims that Britain is more secure inside the Brussels club because of measures like the European arrest warrant. But, in a devastating intervention, Sir Richard said: ‘Few would notice its passing.’

His assessment was backed by a government minister and London Mayor Boris Johnson – who warned EU judges were making it harder to throw out fanatics.

Sir Richard, who was chief of the Secret Intelligence Service from 1999 to 2004, wrote in the current affairs magazine Prospect: ‘Whether one is an enthusiastic European or not, the truth about Brexit from a national security perspective is that the cost to Britain would be low.

‘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 European Union.’ He adds: ‘Britain is Europe’s leader in intelligence and security matters and gives much more than it gets in return.

Threat: A woman injured in the Brussels Metro blast is given emergency treatment outside the station

‘It is difficult to imagine any of the other EU members ending the relationships they already enjoy with the UK.’

He says liaison between allies is partly driven by ‘moral considerations’ – so that if Germany learns of a terrorist plot against London, it would not withhold the intelligence from MI5 simply because the UK is not in the EU.

‘There would be disapproval of Brexit in Washington, and some disappointment too, but the practical consideration of living in a dangerous world and depending on true friends would win out. In short, Europe would be the potential losers in national security. But if Brexit happened, the UK would almost certainly show the magnanimity not to make its European partners pay the cost.’

Smoke seen from Maelbeek Metro station after explosions heard

Horror: Nidhi Chaphekar, (right) an Indian air stewardess from Mumbai, lies injured at the airport in Brussels

Appalling scenes: An injured man lies bleeding on the floor of Zaventem airport in Brussels


Donald Trump sparked a row last night after claiming British Muslims would not tip off the police about suspected terrorists.

The outspoken Republican presidential frontrunner said some were guilty of ‘protecting’ extremists and would not raise the alarm if they discovered plans for a Brussels-style bomb attack.

Mr Trump told ITV’s Good Morning Britain yesterday he had ‘great respect’ for Muslims, but added: ‘They are protecting each other but they’re really doing very bad damage. So there is something going on, I would say this, to the Muslims and in the United States also, when they see trouble, they have to report it, they’re not reporting it, they’re absolutely not reporting it and that’s a big problem.’

The comments sparked outrage from Muslim leaders and immediate condemnation from senior politicians including Home Secretary Theresa May, who said he was ‘just plain wrong’.

One police counter-terrorism chief accused Mr Trump of ‘playing into the hands of terrorists’. Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner Neil Basu said the US billionaire risked ‘demonising’ those the police relied on for help. Miqdaad Versi, of the Muslim Council of Britain, said the claim was ‘just not true’.

Theresa May yesterday said EU membership – and access to its intelligence – was ‘of benefit’ in thwarting terror plots. The Home Secretary told MPs: ‘I think there are a number of mechanisms that we are part of within the EU that do enhance our security.’

But Boris Johnson and farming minister George Eustice both warned that EU membership was harming national security.

The London Mayor told MPs: ‘I’ve seen various people quoted as saying that remaining in the EU is essential for security. ‘I think it’s important to put a countervailing point which is that there are some ways now that the European Court of Justice is militating against our ability to control our borders in the way we want to and indeed to maintain proper surveillance.

‘If you look at the case of Abu Hamza’s niece, who tried to smuggle SIM cards to him in prison, we couldn’t deport her not because of the Strasbourg Court of Human Rights but because of the European Court in Luxembourg, which is now able to adjudicate on the entire corpus of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.’

Mr Eustice said the Schengen zone of passport-free travel on the continent meant terrorists could move more freely within the EU.’

Yesterday Belgium’s ambassador to the UK, Guy Trouveroy, also conceded that free movement increased the risk of terrorist attacks. He said: ‘There is no hiding… It is an issue.’

But No.10 pointed to comments by David Anderson QC, the independent reviewer of terror laws, and former Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind, who both insisted Britain would be safer inside the EU.

Boris Johnson yesterday      Stand off: Theresa May said EU membership – and access to its intelligence – was 'of benefit' in thwarting terror plots

Boris Johnson explains why he is backing Brexit for the UK
Mr Anderson told the BBC that the UK, which is not in the Schengen zone, is ‘much easier to defend’ because of our sea border despite the huge cost and inconvenience to travellers. Last night former Home Secretary Lord Howard called the EU a ‘failing project’ that is ‘failing to keep its people safe’.

The former Tory leader said Schengen was akin to ‘hanging a sign welcoming terrorists to Europe’. Attempts by some Out campaigners to link the EU’s free movement rules to the atrocity were criticised by Mr Cameron, who said it was ‘not appropriate’ to score political points.

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