MICHAEL Gove has been urged to prioritise a Brexit deal which retains vital access to crime-fighting tools in Europe over ‘Brexit ideologies’.

A cross-party group of MPs, led by Liberal Democrat Alistair Carmichael, has written to the Cabinet Secretary over concerns about policing and national security once the transition period ends on December 31.

The MPs have called on both Mr Gove and the Home Secretary Priti Patel to negotiate a deal with the EU that would ensure the UK could still retain access to databases and resources used for tackling crime, arguing that losing access to such services would be “disastrous” for the country’s already-stretched police forces, AS they are essential for the rapid tracing of human traffickers, terrorists and organised criminals.

Along with the Orkney and Shetland MP Mr Carmichael, the letter has been signed by Scottish Lib Dems Wendy Chamberlain, Jamie Stone and Christine Jardine, SNP MPs Allan Dorans and Dr Philippa Whitford, and several Labour MPs.

The group told Mr Gove that crime was “increasingly a cross-border problem” that required a joint effort between law enforcement agencies internationally to tackle.

They added: “The UK’s participation in EU-wide justice and security programmes is a critical part of that co-operation.

“UK leadership in Europol has helped to make it effective at tackling the biggest cross-border criminal threats we face: human trafficking, the illegal drug trade, cybercrime and terrorism.

“Direct, real-time access to EU-wide data-sharing systems enables UK police and Border Force officers identify and arrest traffickers, terrorists and other international criminals.”

The MPs said that UK police forces had accessed EU databases 570 million times last year in order to help investigation and prosecution of foreign criminals, specifically referring to the Schengen Information System, which allows police officers to receive alerts on foreign criminals in the UK and to issue alerts about criminals who may have fled abroad.

They continued: “In recent days, senior police officers have once again highlighted the damage that will be done to UK security if we lose these crucial tools at the end of the year. In particular, the loss of real-time access to databases will add complexity, bureaucracy and delays – all of which our overstretched police officers cannot afford.

“It will hamper their ability to identify, arrest and extradite foreign criminals.

“Despite repeated assurances from the Government, no new agreement with the EU on justice and security co-operation has yet been reached, with weeks now until the end of the transition period.”

They warned that it would be “disastrous for policing and security” if no deal was agreed, or a deal was reached which did not retain the UK’s access to key security databases used by the EU, adding:”The Government must not place an ideological resistance to the Court of Justice of the European Union over the safety and security of the British people.”

A UK Government spokesman said safety of the country was "our top priority and the UK will continue to be one of the safest countries in the world."

He added: "We are focused on reaching an agreement with the EU and there is a good degree of convergence in what the UK and EU are seeking to negotiate in terms of operational capabilities."

In the event of a no-deal, he said there were "well-developed and well-rehearsed plans in place.”

It comes as the Brexit talks continue between UK chief negotiator David Frost and his EU counterpart Michel Barnier this weekend.

Despite positive hints at a deal being struck during the week, on Thursday things turned sour when Downing Street sources said the EU had introduced additional demands at the eleventh hour.

It has now emerged that France said it may veto any agreement if a deal is reached, and No.10 confirmed the talks had reached a “very difficult point”. yesterday.

France’s European affairs minister Clement Beaune said his country could use their veto if the terms of a deal on trade and security were not right.

He said: “I think it’s also the case for our partners that if there were a deal that isn’t good, which in our evaluation doesn’t correspond to those interests, we will oppose it.

“I want to believe we will have a good deal, but to get a good deal you know it’s better to be frank, and to say our interests. We have been very clear, sometimes the Brits a little less so, about our interests.”

It is understood the French put pressure on EU negotiators on Thursday to introduce late demands, bringing the likelihood of a deal into doubt once again.

A No.10 spokesman said:”These are live negotiations which are ongoing. There are still some issues to overcome. Time is in very short supply, and we’re at a very difficult point in the talks.”