'Utter rubbish': Theresa May incredulous at Michael Gove's Brexit claims

Lisa O'Carroll Brexit correspondent
·2 min read

Theresa May has expressed contempt for the government’s post-Brexit policing plans by appearing to mouth “utter rubbish” as Michael Gove declared the UK could do “better” without joint law enforcement operations.

The former prime minister made her feelings known as Gove claimed the UK could “cooperate more effectively” in many areas over border security outside the EU than “we ever could inside”.

She was caught on camera grimacing and mouthing an incredulous “what?” when Gove said the UK had “a variety of methods and arrangements open to us, open to Border Force and open to our security and intelligence services” after Brexit.

A PA Media reporter in the Westminster press gallery said that off-camera May also appeared to mouth “utter rubbish” as Gove went on to explain the no-deal contingencies.

Police have expressed deep concern over their capabilities if they lose the European arrest warrant or access to live passenger data, critical in fast-moving counter-terror operations.

Related: Police ability to detain EU suspects 'slower' without Brexit deal

May told the Commons that “the government appears resigned to the prospect of no deal, yet one area which they should not be resigned to the prospect of no deal is in security”.

She noted that neither Gove, in his update to the house on Monday, nor Boris Johnson, in his letter to parliamentarians on Friday, had mentioned security in recent statements.

“Will [Gove] confirm that if the UK walks away with no deal then our police and law enforcement agencies will no longer have the necessary access to databases, such as PNR (passenger name records), in order to continue to identify and catch criminals and potential terrorists in order to keep us safe?”

Gove said “significant progress” has been made over security cooperation, but added that in the case of a second tool at the disposal of police – the Schengen Information System 2 (SIS2) – the EU was demanding a role for the European court of justice in the event of disputes, which the UK “cannot accept”.