Theresa May changes tune on post-separation security
On 29/10/2013, Theresa May wasn’t very optimistic about the post-separation security relationship between the UK and an independent Scotland.
May, speaking as the Home Office published the latest UK government analysis paper on the implications of independence, said Scotland would lose automatic access to MI5, MI6, GCHQ and the new National Crime Agency.
She claimed that would damage Scotland’s capacity to detect and prevent terrorism, tackle organised and cross-border crime and defend itself against cybercrime.
May said: “If Scotland were a separate state I would expect there to be co-operation between the UK and Scotland, but that would be different from the arrangements we have today. Those arrangements, crucially, is that natural working together, that automatic access to capabilities [which] would not necessary be there in the future were it a separate state.”
The Home Office report stated: “The continuing UK would not be in a position to protect Scottish interests as it does presently. Scotland would be a separate state. It could not ‘share’ the UK’s security and intelligence agencies for reasons of sovereignty and democratic accountability.
The message back then was, separate and you will be less safe, which is the opposite of what she is currently saying to EU countries.
To maintain coordination on security Theresa May said the UK and EU should continue to work together on sanctions, operations on the ground and developing capabilities in defence, cyber and space.
The prime minister warned that “rigid institutional restrictions or deep-seated ideology” should not jeopardise the security of UK citizens.
“We must do whatever is most practical and pragmatic in ensuring our collective security,” she added.
She said the UK and EU’s enemies would “like nothing better than to see us fractured”.
In 2013 those in favour of Scottish independence argued that a high level of cooperation would be maintained as it was in our mutual interest.
In 2013 May was the one basing her stance on rigid institutional restrictions and deep-seated ideology. It’s funny how politicians can switch stance in such a short space of time. Especially when you consider that the type of co-operation May is trying so desperately to preserve. It is the exact arrangement we would currently have with the UK had Scotland voted Yes and became a sovereign EU nation.
For the record, I don’t know how Brexit will impact our security.
Nor do I know how Scottish independence would have if we had voted Yes in 2014. Both outcomes are depended on negotiations but I do feel May’s current position is probably more sensible. I said last week that a comprehensive post-Brexit agreement on security was one of the most grounded things Boris talked about in his otherwise fantastical speech. It would be stupid for countries not to keep close integration on these issues.
The problem in the context of Brexit though, is that an agreement on security would also be linked to agreements elsewhere. As discussed many times here before, the negotiating stance in other areas is so flawed we may end up with no deal at all. Regardless of our mutual interest in keeping close security arrangements, if the talks collapse due to irreconcilable differences on trade and immigration, they will collapse on security as well.