David Davis accuses EU of 'public posturing' and 'point scoring' over public security after Brexit

Steven Swinford
Michel Barnier and David Davis - Getty Images Europe

David Davis has accused the European Union of "public posturing" and "point-scoring" over public security after a breakdown in Brexit talks.

On Thursday the European Union accused the Government of "chasing a fantasy" and mounted an outspoken attack over Britain's offer to co-operate on security after Brexit.

Brussels is threatening to shut British firms out of the £8.8billion Galileo satellite navigation system and has also ruled out the UK's continued involved in the European Arrest Warrant extradition system.

Mr Davis, the Brexit Secretary, said that Britain had come to Brussels with an "unconditional" offer on security because it wanted to put the public's safety first.

He said: "This is not about public posturing and scoring points - we came to the table with a series of serious papers this week, with the intention of making progress towards resolving difficult issues because that is in our shared interests.

"Our proposals on security, for example, are not about bending rules or 'membership-lite' - they are about protecting people - nothing more, nothing less. We face the same threats and have shared values - criminals and terrorists do not respect borders."

He said that it is the "first duty" of Governments to keep their citizens safe.

"We have made an unconditional offer which we believe provides the best way to do that," he said. "The EU should not now be seeking to put conditions on this.

Brexit customs union

"We need to approach these discussions with the interests of our citizens at heart. It is imperative that we keep these talks constructive both inside and outside of the negotiating room."

It came after a senior Brussels official accused Britain of being one-sided in its approach to negotiations.

“I have the impression that the UK thinks everything has to change on the EU side so everything can stay the same for the UK,” the official said.

“The pre-condition for fruitful discussions is that the UK accepts the consequences of its own decision rather than chasing the fantasy of denying the consequences of Brexit. The sooner we get away from this fantasy, the sooner we can talk about the future relationship.”

The extraordinary attack by Brussels prompted Olly Robbins, the Prime Minister's Europe Adviser, to write a message on Twitter for the first time.

"Very proud of the cross-Government team that worked so hard to support technical talks in Brussels this week. UK proposals for a deep relationship, calmly and professionally presented".

Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, yesterday described the intervention by Brussels as "unhelpful". He said that the UK will "go it alone" and build its own satellite system if it is barred from using Galileo.

The EU is threatening to limit the UK's access to the Galileo satellite system, an alternative to the US GPS system, after Brexit, because it claims there are legal issues about sharing information with a non-member state.

Mr Hammond said: "We need access to a satellite system of this kind. A plan has always been to work as a core member of the Galileo project, contributing financially and technically to the project.

"If that proves impossible then Britain will have to go it alone, possibly with other partners outside Europe and the U.S, to build a third competing system. But for national security strategic reasons we need access to a system and will ensure that we get it.”