RUSSIA could pose a greater threat to the security of Europe if Britain were to leave the EU.
That’s the warning given by the Royal Navy’s former chief as the nation’s MPs draw battle lines on whether to remain in the union.
Europe needs us and, if it becomes flaky, the risks from people like Putin and the southern flank would be huge.Lord Alan West, former First Sea Lord
Lord Alan West told peers in the House of Lords that if UK were to leave the EU now, it could open the doors for more hostile action by Russian president Vladimir Putin.
It comes after escalating tension between the West and the Kremlin over Moscow’s move to annex the Crimea and its continued support of separatist fighters in Ukraine.
Speaking in the House of Lords, the Labour peer said: ‘The people of our nation are safer in terms of terrorism and serious organised crime because we are part of the EU.
‘We lead Europol and have the European arrest warrant and all sorts of things.
‘At the grand strategic level of defence, there is no doubt that Nato is most important to us.
‘However, does the noble Baroness agree that Europe is very important to our nation?
‘We have twice saved its bacon in the last 100 years and there is no doubt that, at the moment, there are huge threats.
‘If we left the EU, I think there would be a certain flakiness within it.
‘This is a very bad moment for that to happen.
‘Europe needs us and, if it becomes flaky, the risks from people like Putin and the southern flank would be huge.’
Responding to the former First Sea Lord’s comments, Baroness Tina Stowell said: ‘That is why the prime minister has said that perhaps the only person who would cheer if we were to vote to leave would be Putin.
‘Clearly, we do not want to do anything that is going to brighten up his day.’
The warning comes after Portsmouth North MP and armed forces minister, Penny Mordaunt revealed she was backing the Brexit campaign for the UK to leave the EU.
The Conservative MP argued that without further EU reform, the UK would ‘never be as safe, secure and prosperous as it could be’.
While pro-EU Portsmouth South MP, Flick Drummond said remaining part of the ‘largest free market in the world’ would benefit the UK.
Earlier this month, The News reported how hundreds of sailors from the city were being deployed to the Baltic.
Five warships will join Nato’s maritime arm, strengthening the alliance’s military presence in the region to counter the Russian threat.