Spies, lies and deep-rooted ties

Mr Key has effectively rubbished fears drummed up during the referendum campaign that the United Kingdom’s security and intelligence will suffer because of Brexit.

He says the United Kingdom won’t lose influence in the powerful Five Eyes network of spies and that Europe would be unlikely to cut the United Kingdom off completely.

New Zealand may seem small fry and far removed from the epic United Kingdom and Europe debate, but not when it comes to security and intelligence – a major focus of the referendum campaign.

As part of the Five Eyes Network, we’re in the world’s most powerful spy club. It’s us, the United States, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.

“We’ve always had a situation with the five eyes partners – pretty much on a wholesale basis we share information with each other, sometime you keep information back but generally they’ll share information,” says Mr Key.

Pre-referendum, remain campaigners from the old British Prime Minister David Cameron to the new, Theresa May, could be heard up talking up security threats if the United Kingdom voted to leave.
“It was always better for [the] UK to be part of Europe on balance for a number of factors,” says Mr Key.

And intelligence is one of those factors.

But according to Mr Key, having the UK out of the EU club doesn’t make it any less important in the spy club.

Former top spies and military brass from the United Kingdom and United States suggested Britain leaving Europe would undermine its security.

The concern was that European friends would stop sharing intelligence with Britain and although Mr Key doesn’t know the details – he thinks that’s unlikely.

Mr Key says spying and sharing is about safety first and that Brexit won’t change that.

No matter which government is in place, our security services continue to do the job they are paid to do. Similarly, there are intelligence relationships between countries that endure even if the politicians make a mess of it.

However, in the spying game, keep your enemies close, and your friends even closer.


So, Five Eyes spies on Germany. And, by extension, New Zealand spies on Germany. And, no doubt, also on France, Holland, Spain and everyone else.

Sharing intelligence is something that countries do only out of self-interest. And, just to make sure, their friends spy on them anyway.


– Tova O’Brien, Newshub