British spy agencies see foreign ties intact despite Brexit

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s intelligence agencies expect close relations with European and other foreign spy services to continue regardless of plans to quit the European Union, official sources said.

FILE PHOTO: A motorboat passes by the MI6 building in London August 25, 2010. REUTERS/Toby Melville

With Brexit set to happen on Oct. 31, questions are being raised whether current intelligence-sharing arrangements with EU partners ranging from passenger travel data to arrest warrants could be at risk.

However, the terms of Britain’s EU divorce are still unclear, and the sources were anyway confident security cooperation would not be jeopardised given the West’s need for unity against threats ranging from Islamic militants to the far right.

“Brexit should not impact the strength of our European partnerships,” said one senior British government source familiar with the activities of one spy agency, adding that most intelligence-sharing was anyway conducted outside EU institutions.

A second source also said British agencies, including the overseas intelligence body MI6, do not expect disruptions in relationships with foreign counterparts however Brexit plays out. “All of our relationships are bilateral with European nations,” the source noted.

Since World War Two, London has had particularly strong intelligence links with the United States, and other members of the so-called “Five Eyes” alliance: Canada, Australia and New Zealand. That cooperation, the second source said, was “as strong as ever … We all have shared threats and so work


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