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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Warning to Tories on European Arrest Warrant

The Guardian warns David Cameron and his Conservative Party that UK efforts to bring terrorists, including jihadis, to justice in this country will be seriously impeded if he bows to pressure from Eurosceptics and opts out of European Union police and justice co-operation.

The paper says that the prime minister is facing what could be the biggest backbench rebellion of his premiership over Europe next month, when up to 100 Conservative MPs could vote against the UK continuing to be part of a package of EU policies that includes the European Arrest Warrant.

Apparently, Tory rightwingers are arguing that the UK should be reclaiming powers from the EU, rather than giving them away, and transferring more sovereignty in Brussels. They are putting pressure on the prime minister to opt out of the EAW, which allows for speedier extraditions between signatory countries. The danger is that faced with the UKIP threat, Cameron might agree.

Former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell, who is a member of the Commons intelligence and security committee, and former Conservative immigration minister Damian Green, have it absolutely right in warning that pulling out of the EAW would be a disastrous move at a time of heightened concern over terrorism:

Campbell said it was “absolutely extraordinary” that Tory MPs were so determined to end UK participation in the European Arrest Warrant, given that police chiefs and the home secretary, Theresa May, were firmly in favour of retaining it.

Campbell said: “If we don’t have the European Arrest Warrant, it is not difficult to envisage a young jihadist, who is unwilling to face prosecution in the UK, choosing to hole up in some other European country, and putting the British government to the test of seeking his or her extradition – without the presumption of doing so which the warrant confers.”

He added: “When the home secretary and the most senior police offers in the land are convinced of the advantages to this country of the EAW, it is almost beyond belief that their judgment is not accepted, particularly at a time when the terrorist threat has never been greater.”

This is one issue we cannot afford to give in on.
Nor can we count on the whole-hearted support of the parliamentary Labour Party.
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