An ex-MI6 chief and a former head of the Armed Forces have warned that the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal will threaten national security if it is not defeated.
Sir Richard Dearlove and Field Marshal Lord Guthrie have written to all Conservative Party chairmen asking them to ensure their MPs vote against the “bad agreement”.
The damning letter, leaked to Sky News, claims the Withdrawal Agreement “abrogates” the state’s duty to protect the security of its citizens as it would “place control of aspects of our national security in foreign hands”.
Lord Guthrie and Sir Richard said that the offer of a “new, deep and special relationship” with the EU in defence, security and intelligence “cuts across the three fundamentals of our national security policy” including Nato membership, the US relationship and the Five Eyes intelligence alliance.
They wrote: “We are taking the unprecedented step of writing to all Conservative Party chairmen to advise and to warn you that this Withdrawal Agreement, if not defeated, will threaten the national security of the country in fundamental ways. Please ensure that your MP does not vote for this bad agreement.”
It adds: “The first duty of the state, above trade, is the security of its citizens. The Withdrawal Agreement abrogates this fundamental contract and would place control of aspects of our national security in foreign hands.
“Please ensure that your MP votes against this bad agreement and supports a sovereign Brexit on WTO rules, without payment of ransom, for which we now know from an heroic anonymous civil servant, the civil service is, of course, fully prepared.”
A Number 10 spokeswoman said: “The claim is completely wrong. Nothing in the Withdrawal Agreement or our Political Declaration cuts across Nato, our defence or intelligence relationship with the USA or with the Five Eyes alliance.
“In fact, our deal delivers the broadest security agreement the EU has with any of its partners.”
And current Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay said: “This interpretation is wrong. The PM’s deal does not compromise the Five Eyes Alliance or our membership of NATO.”
But Tory former Brexit secretary David Davis said on Twitter: “Few people can match the expertise and patriotism of Richard Dearlove and Charles Guthrie. People should pay serious attention to their considered letter on why the PM’s Withdrawal Agreement needs to be voted down next week.”
Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake, a supporter of the Best for Britain campaign for a second referendum, said: “It’s astonishing that someone of Sir Richard Dearlove’s experience can make the case that cutting our ties with the EU would enhance security cooperation. It clearly wouldn’t.
“We’ve already lost access to the Galileo programme, and police departments around the country have time and again warned about the threat Brexit poses to their ability to stop terrorists.
“Then again, this is the guy who was head of intelligence when we went into Iraq.”