The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

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Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

The Five Eyes - Security after Brexit

The UK will continue to thrive due to its existing linguistic and intelligence connections

1st August 2017
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I come from a family who have served on Five Continents for their country in both military and civilian platforms. As such, I became aware of the Five Eyes as a youngster.  The Five Eyes is a joint intelligence community comprising of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the United States.   Initially the Five Eyes or FVEY was formed in 1941. It is therefore arguable, given the geographical locations of its members and their historical endurance, that no amount of pressure from the EU will cause it to falter.

 

FVEY operates beyond the remit of the EU. All are members of NATO and this will not change irrespective of Brexit. Brexit is inconsequential in matters of Intelligence.  Few in the Remain camp have even acknowledged this central pillar of British government that will endure beyond the legal confinements of any Brexit deal that London has with Brussels, if such a deal is even achieved.  The UKUSA Agreement of 1946 may have evolved, but nevertheless it shall remain a core part of British domestic and foreign security information gathering and sharing post-Brexit.

 

Cooperation between Five Eyes members will be ongoing, parallel to any changes within the EU.  Whereas some MPs feel that Britain will be left 'out in the cold,' (as if a new Cold War has developed), historical facts and agreements between the Five Eyes members will ensure this does not happen.  Unlike their European counterparts, the Five eyes all share the same language which in terms of intelligence communication can only be of significant benefit to all concerned.

 

According to James Cox, “Precise assignments are not publicly known, but research indicates that Australia monitors South and East Asia emissions. New Zealand covers the South Pacific and Southeast Asia.  The UK devotes attention to Europe and Western Russia, while the US monitors the Caribbean, China, Russia, the Middle East and Africa.”[1] It is hard to argue in any way that these arrangements will somehow change after the UK formally leaves the EU.

 

Incidentally, Human Intelligence gathering will not change post-Brexit. Signals Intelligence gathering will also remain unchanged. The other forms of Intelligence gathering will also be unaffected by the process of Brexit.  So too the agencies such as GCHQ, Canadian Security Intelligence Service and Central Intelligence Agency. These pillars will continue to support the national security of their respective countries independently and jointly when necessary.

 

There are numerous challenges ahead for the Five Eyes, once the UK takes her place back on the International stage.  These challenges will not be compounded by Brexit, but they could be alleviated by them.  Terrorism goes beyond the EU. So, too kidnappings and murders. Crime has become high tech and so too have the agencies targeting them.

 

Overall, it can be argued that the UK will continue to thrive due to its existing linguistic and intelligence connections. We must remember and acknowledge that the UK's Intelligence community is one of the oldest and most respected in the world, on top of being part of the Five Eyes.

 

By James Coghlan

 


[1] Canada and the Five Eyes Intelligence Community, James Cox, Strategic Studies Working Group Papers, December 2012, page 4

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Monday, 20 November 2017