The savage attacks by Islamic State in Brussels last month underscore the importance of nations standing together in the face of such barbarism.
Isis offers an extreme form of Islam which attacks our fundamental belief in an open society, and is an affront to the majority of peaceful Muslims. Isis must be destroyed, a task we cannot achieve alone.
The terrorist threat is global. Since the beginning of 2016 there have been violent and non-violent terrorist incidents in at least 50 countries around the world, from the United States to south Asia, as a consequence of religious extremism. South America is the only inhabited continent where there has been no recorded extreme religious activity.
This reality means now is not the time, if there ever is a time, to retreat from the world. Our involvement in international organisations such as the United Nations, Nato and the European Union remains imperative.
We are now faced with a referendum on whether we should remain a member of the EU. In the context of the threat from Isis, it is simplistic at best and divisive at worst to say membership of the EU forces us to import the risk of terrorism when the problem is worldwide and not just restricted to our own continent.
If the terrorist threat we face is transnational, our response must be too. Our security is improved by working with our allies including our European neighbours and is enhanced by membership of the EU.
Our membership allows us to share intelligence which would not be possible to replicate outside.
The European arrest warrant, used by member states throughout the EU, has ensured that 5,000-6,000 criminals have been removed from the United Kingdom to face justice elsewhere in the EU. In 2005 wanted terrorist Hussein Osman, who attempted a further terrorist attack on the London Underground, was on the run and managed to reach Italy, where he was captured. Under the European arrest warrant he was returned to the UK to face justice in a matter of days. Without the warrant and our membership of the EU the process could have taken years.
The terrorist threat is not just global. The threat is also generational. If we believe we can defeat the threat by pulling up the drawbridge from the continent of Europe, we are sadly mistaken.
The threat is already here. There have been 300 arrests of terrorist suspects in the UK in the last 12 months – the highest figure in years, and the vast majority are British citizens, born and brought up here.
Our focus should be ever present vigilance, intelligence-sharing and cooperation between EU states and our allies further afield. Leaving the EU would not strengthen us, but it would strengthen the terrorist threat. Isis would exploit weakness and a fractured European continent would help them. Isolationism is not the answer. We need to face up to the world as it is.
International institutions demand resolve and not bickering. The fight against Isis and similar death cults starts beyond our continental borders and we must work to ensure it stays that way. The answer lies with coordinated military action where necessary, and a programme of deradicalisation at home, in Europe, and beyond. It also requires a globally negotiated settlement in which investment is put into education programmes in countries with weak governance, such as those in north Africa and the Middle East, so the grievances of poverty and disengagement can be addressed. This will help prevent those, especially the young, who may turn towards Isis and other extreme religious groups from doing so.
We need a different and more robust approach to global governance and I want to see the UK at the table helping to sort out the problems we face together. Now more than ever we should not be considering disengaging from international organisations, or to the need for them. We should be working with our partners to coordinate, reform, and show resolve to see off a common threat and preserve our way of life.
In my view, I am afraid those who say leaving the EU would make us safer are peddling a myth.
I will be voting for the UK to remain a part of the EU on 23 June because the world is too big and too dangerous for us to face it alone.
Phil Wilson MP is member of parliament for Sedgefield. He tweets @PhilWilsonMP
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