British govt seeks sweeping new powers to combat terror, weapons proliferation after Brexit

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street on July 19, 2017.
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street on July 19, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (Bloomberg) - Prime Minister Theresa May's government is seeking sweeping new powers to combat terrorism and weapons proliferation in a Bill aimed at giving the UK the means to impose sanctions after Brexit as part of broader efforts to move legal power currently under EU law back to Britain.

The proposed Sanctions Bill will ensure the UK has the necessary post-Brexit legal powers to "cut off funding for terrorists by making it easier to freeze assets and block access to bank accounts", as well as "greater flexibility in choosing when and how to introduce new measures", the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in a statement.

The Bill also means the government would only need reasonable grounds to suspect a person or group of being involved in terrorism in order to freeze their accounts or impose other sanctions.

"These new powers will help us keep the British public safer from terrorist attacks by keeping money out of the hands of those wishing to cause us harm," Mr Stephen Barclay, economic secretary to the treasury, said.

The UK currently implements sanctions against 30 regimes, including Russia, North Korea and Iran. Britain has been one of the most forceful European Union members in pushing for sanctions against Syria and Russia.

The new powers will help the UK continue to lead the global fight against the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), according to the statement.