Dan Jarvis enters debate on EU referendum with security concerns

Labour MP for Barnsley, Dan Jarvis
Labour MP for Barnsley, Dan Jarvis

Britain is better prepared against future terror attacks if it remains within the EU, Labour MP Dan Jarvis has said as he wades into the referendum debate.

The high profile politician is due to make national security the topic of a second personal intervention into the Labour party's future ahead of the June 23 referendum.

A speech he is due to give in Central London later this Spring follows his call in March for a radical new approach for Labour to help them win at the next General Election and to become the party of work and jobs.

The former British Army major, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, said the decision over whether Britain remains within the EU is the single most important issue facing people in Yorkshire and Humber and he wants to contribute to Labour's own debate on security policy ahead of that pivotal vote.

The Barnsley Central MP said: "In the context of the debate around our EU membership, there will be those who will question whether we are more secure inside or outside the EU. Given the threats that we face now and the threats that we will likely encounter in the future, our relationship with the EU, though not perfect, is undoubtedly helpful in terms of enhancing our security.

"There are some who would have us believe that we can withdraw from the EU and pull up the drawbridge. There isn't a drawbridge to pull up. The world has moved on, along with the nature of the threats we face. Those who wish us harm now have an ability to reach into our country in a way that they have never done before."

He said EU Pol, the EU arrest warrant and the country's ability to share intelligence with EU allies means that alongside NATO, the EU acts as a 'vital network' that enhances UK security.

"There is no doubt that we are better placed to keep our country safe because of these networks and relationships we have with our partners in the EU," he said.

Considering his military career before entering politics Mr Jarvis said he wanted to contribute to the issue following leader Jeremy Corbyn's call to have an open and honest debate about the future of Labour and its policy direction.

On Europe he said Alan Johnson was an excellent person to lead Labour's campaign to remain in the union.

He said: "None of us pretend that this is a perfect organisation because it just isn't, and I've had many a conversation with my constituents where people have expressed a range of different concerns about our membership of the EU but in the end I'm in no doubt that in Yorkshire and the Humber, as EU recipients, we are better off and are safer as a result."

The former shadow youth justice and victims minister decided not to stand for the leadership in 2015 after Labour lost the General Election to concentrate on his young family, and was not asked by Mr Corbyn to join his shadow cabinet.

However he has remained an active backbencher and in March gave a speech at think tank Demos on the party's economic agenda, which he said New Labour failed to get to the root cause of inequality.

And on military affairs he is in the rare position within the party of having been a serving solider, and is keen that Labour makes national security an important part of its future.

He said while the Government's strategic defence review is a solid foundation, the nature of threats will continue to evolve.

He said: "We have excellent security services and police forces, who work tirelessly and diligently to minimise the risk to the public. But all of us also have a responsibility to remain vigilant and be mindful of the level of threat that we face.

"The first responsibility of any Government is to ensure that it keeps the public safe. The Government's recent strategic defence and security review and the national security strategy are the basis for this.

"The world is more complex and more challenging than ever before, and at any one time there are a range of threats that we face."

David Cameron announced this morning that more specially-trained officers will be based across England and Wales as part of the Government's response to last year's terror killings in Paris and the bombings in Brussels which left 32 dead and more than 300 people injured.

Around 600 of the new armed officers will be based in London, with more than 400 in the rest of the country.

An additional 40 specialise armed response vehicles will also take to the streets across England and Wales.