People writing into this site often ask what backbench MPs do all day. Eurosceptic ones have been busy since the government first announced its motion for yesterday to approve the opt out from the EU Criminal Justice measures, and to press on with opting back in to some of them. There have been many meetings and discussions with Ministers, as MPs have explained that we want to opt out of all the measures, but are not persuaded of the need or desirability of opting back in to some of the most important of them.
As a result of these discussions the government toned down its original motion. Eurosceptic Conservatives were still not happy. Three Chairmen of relevant Select Committees tabled a further amendment, to delete reference in the motion to the list of possible opt ins the government has already drawn up in a negotiation betwen Lib dems and Conservatives. Under pressure, Ministers decided to accept this amendment.
It means that last night the Commons did approve the all important opt out from the 133 measures. The wording on future opt ins was watered down, and leaves Parliament free to scrutinise draft proposals, offfer advice, and in due course have a vote on any measures the government does wish to opt into. That was progress.
The Select Committees will now get work on whether some opt ins are desirable. Unfortunately from the Eurosceptic point of view both the Labour and Lib Dem parties want more opt ins, not less.