NEXT MONTH, BRITAIN is kind of relying on 27 EU states signing off on a deal that will avoid the Doomsday scenario of a ‘No Deal' Brexit. It's an all or nothing kind of deal - if one nation objects, it's back to the drawing board, so the UK has to be super careful not to rub anyone up the wrong way.
It's against this backdrop that the UK is proceeding to rub Belgium up the wrong way.
The UK has reportedly turned down advances from Belgium, asking for cooperating in regards to allegations that GCHQ ordered the hacking of Belgacom, the country's biggest telecoms network.
"The United Kingdom believes that this could jeopardise our sovereignty, security and public order," the UK Home office is said to have responded. This overlooks the small detail that causing diplomatic incidents at a time when the UK is relying on the EU for a decent Brexit deal could also jeopardise security and public order.
Leaks from a judicial inquiry at Belgium's national security council revealed that Britain was said to be spying on the state-owned company between 2011 and 2013. The Brussels Times says the prosecutor's office views Britain's official response as "exceptional between EU states, and something that could lead to a diplomatic incident."
The investigation began after slides from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden showed Belgacom as a target of GCHQ spying. The hacking was supposedly focused on company subsidiary Belgacom International Carrier Services, which handles the phone and data traffic in Africa and the Middle East.
If proven, this would be the first time an EU member state has been documented spying on another. Which is quite a high note to leave the bloc on, come 29 March 2019. Like calling it a night at a house party after throwing up in the host's shoe rack. µ
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