The decision of the ECHR to prevent the UK keeping really violent and unpleasant criminals in prison for a long time will not go down well amongst Conservative MPs, nor in much of the rest of the country. The Lib Dems refuse to allow Conservative Ministers to tackle this unwarranted interference this Parliament. We will need robust proposals for tackling the wayward Court in our next Manifesto. I hear that will happen.
At the same time Mr Clegg and the Lib Dems have apparently refused to allow the Coalition government to get back the 133 powers granted under Labour’s Criminal Justice co-operation with the rest of the EU unless the government opts back into crucial federalist measures like the European Arrest Warrant. This too is being taken very badly by many Conservative MPs. We so rarely get a chance to get powers back from the EU, so we do not wish to miss the full opportunity.
The press drew attention to the happy spirit of unity the Conservative party achieved when as a united party we voted for a referendum last week. We had to cut loose from the shackles of coalition to do so, as the Lib Dems no longer supoprt an EU referendum. Next week it looks as if the Coalition is back in business, to the annoyance of Conservative MPs who want more power from Brussels and do not wish to lose any part of this opportunity to reassert control over our own criminal justice system.
It is easy to unite the Conservative party on the EU – it will always be united when we are working to make a reality of a “new relationship with the EU” that means we are able to govern ourselves again. The party was united in voting against Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon, and was united in voting for a referendum on whether to stay in. Anytime the Coalition grants powers to the EU or fails to take powers back, it will be opposed by many Conservative MPs.