Why the UK should not opt in to Criminal Justice measures in the EU

I set out the text of my speech in the Commons on Monday over the UK, democracy and criminal justice:

Mr John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): Today’s debate should be about the very future of the United Kingdom’s democracy. I and many of my right hon. and hon. Friends believe that one of the great duties of a state is to settle on a fair and strong criminal law and to ensure that the crime-fighting resources are put in to maintain that law. We also believe that, in an increasingly global world of criminal activity, those functions can be properly discharged by the Home Secretary in Cabinet and by the police forces of our country only if we have proper co-operation and collaboration arrangements with other countries abroad. We need those co-operation arrangements, not just with other European countries in the European Union or the few countries in Europe not in the European Union, but with every country around the world. I am pleased to say that thanks to successive Governments and Home Secretaries we do have in place a set of pretty good arrangements with the major countries, and we have demonstrated our ability to negotiate successful arrangements for extradition and mutual crime fighting with those countries that are not in the European Union and to find ways of doing that with countries in the European Union.

Let me make it clear at the outset that those of us who do not wish to opt back in to European criminal justice measures are no more soft on crime than anyone else in the House. We believe that there can be an alternative way of ensuring proper co-operation and collaboration with France, Germany and the other leading European Union countries, just as we have those successful co-operation arrangements with countries that are outside the European Union.

Our objection to any of these measures, including the European arrest warrant, is not necessarily about the measure itself, and certainly not its purpose, but about the way in which the institutional structure is developed to back up the measure. We are trying to protect our democracy, this Parliament and future Home Secretaries from the event that the European Court of Justice, once we have opted into any of these measures, can use that opt-in as a device for making good criminal law in Brussels and in the Court that this House and the British people might fundamentally disagree with.

Dr Julian Huppert (Cambridge) (LD): The right hon. Gentleman talks about alternatives to some of these measures. Is he aware of the formal evidence given by the police, who said that alternatives to the European arrest warrant “would result in fewer extraditions, longer delays, higher costs, more offenders evading justice and increased risk to public safety”?

Does he accept that that is the police’s advice?

Mr Redwood: Of course we can find police and others who take the hon. Gentleman’s view, but I think that it is putting very different weights in the balance. He is giving us an immediate topical problem of view, and I am giving him something fundamental about a national democratic state and the future good government of our country. When I weigh those in the balance, there is no issue for me; of course we must protect our national democracy and then work away at any imperfections there might be in the cross-border arrangements because we have put democracy first.

Martin Horwood (Cheltenham) (LD): If the right hon. Gentleman is challenging the fundamental idea of an international arrest warrant operating among the 28 member states, is my maths correct that he would have to replace it with 784 bilateral extradition treaties, and that is just on one of these justice and home affairs measures?

Mr Redwood: My maths tells me that there are far fewer countries in the European Union than in the rest of the world, and we manage to have pretty good arrangements with the rest of the world. I have every confidence in the ability of the current and future Home Secretaries to restore our bilateral arrangements with the other 27 members of the European Union just as surely as we have bilateral arrangements with most of the other 200 countries in the world. The hon. Gentleman will remember that there was a time before this country was in the European Union, and certainly before we were in this current set of criminal justice arrangements, when we had perfectly good working relationships. I am sure that he and I would have liked them to be improved—one can always improve and make progress—but he should not be so defeatist about the ability of our Ministers and civil servants to defend Britain’s interests and come up with a good answer.

Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab): The right hon. Gentleman suggests that it would be perfectly fine to abandon the European arrest warrant and rely on bilateral arrangements because we have such wonderful arrangements with so many other countries in the world. The Russian Federation, for instance, is covered by the previous version of the EAW, the European convention on extradition, but we have not managed to get Mr Lugovoy back, have we?

Mr Redwood: To find a country where there is a problem does not disprove my case. My case is that if there is good will—[Interruption.] The hon. Member for Rhondda (Chris Bryant) seems about to allege that all members of the European Union cannot be trusted and that we can do a deal only with the Commission. I have more faith in France and Germany than he does. I think that it would be in France’s and Germany’s interests, should Britain opt out of the European arrest warrant, to put in place really good arrangements, because they will want them to operate for them in Britain just as surely as Britain needs the arrangements to operate in France and Germany. As someone who does not like centralised European government arrangements, I find that I am often warm-hearted towards, and supportive of, the French and Germans and believe that we can make very good arrangements with them because it is in our mutual interests to do so. It is the rapid pro-Europeans who so dislike our French and German partners that they say that it all has to be bound up in central European government because we cannot trust France and Germany to come to a sensible arrangement with us over these important matters.

What is it about our country that these people do not like? What is it about our national democracy that they wish to tear down? A previous Government negotiated in good faith the third pillar arrangements for criminal justice. The idea of the third pillar was that, yes, we wanted enhanced co-operation and collaboration with our nearest neighbours, and of course I accept that there are more likely to be issues with France, Belgium and Holland, because they are very close, than with countries in Asia, so there is a reason for enhanced collaboration. We worked out a system in which we could have better procedures, enhanced collaboration and more co-operation, based on the mutual agreement of the states involved, not based on an independent united states of Europe Government, which is emerging as a result of this and other exercises but not from an independent court where there is no democratic accountability to the British people.

In recent months, we have had case after case from the European Court of Human Rights that this country and the British people have deeply disliked. There is very little we can do about that. If we give further enhanced powers to the European Court of Justice, we will have another series of such decisions from the European Court of Justice that we do not like. All major political parties will have to go to the electorate, shrug their shoulders and say, “We can do nothing about it. We still expect our salaries and to sit in the Parliament of the United Kingdom, but don’t expect us to revise this. We no longer run the criminal law and can no longer change the law in the way you want or expect. That is now settled in Brussels. Even your MEPs probably won’t be able to sort it out because the European Court of Justice is supreme above all elected officials and can provide the motor for making decisions on these crucial matters.”

The case before us today is very simple. Those who vote for opt-ins vote for European centralised justice and for the uncertainty of the European Court of Justice, which will in due course make decisions that the British people and their elected representatives cannot tolerate. Those who vote for opt-ins vote because they do not like this country’s democracy and they vote themselves out of a job.

Those of us who vote for the opt-out, and nothing but the opt-out, vote for the reverse. We vote for the House to take the responsibility. We vote to trust successive Home Secretaries. We vote to trust the judgment of the British people to judge their Governments and Home Secretaries, elect those who do a good job and throw out of office those who do a bad job. That is a true democratic system.

I do not want to live in a country where criminal justice has been transferred to independent experts abroad whom we cannot sack or influence. I do not want to go to my electors and say, “As a result of the vote we have had tonight and what happened subsequently, another major power of this country’s democracy has been seceded to the European Union in perpetuity in such a way that we can never get it back.”

It is a simple issue. I urge the House to vote for the opt-outs and against the opt-ins.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.


  1. lifelogic
    Posted July 17, 2013 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    I agree fully with your position. It is hard to see why every MP does not agree too.
    What is really driving those taking the other viewpoint one wonders?

    • Roy Grainger
      Posted July 17, 2013 at 8:18 am | Permalink

      In the case of Lab/Lib MPs it is easy to explain why they want no opt-outs, it is because they know this (and other) European institutions will follow a largely left-wing “progressive” agenda that they agree with, so even if their parties are not elected to be in power in UK their policies will still be implemented via Europe.

      Why any Conservative should support the opt-in is a more puzzling question.

  2. margaret brandreth-j
    Posted July 17, 2013 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    In theory I whole heartedly agree with you. There is none healthier than listening to all views and executing by truth, reason and without bias within our own system of democracy. It almost makes me feel how I felt when writing about political philosophy during a degree course. It elevates the human condition to desire truth , freedom and fairness. I want to say John Redwood you are 100% right and I go along with you , yet experience has taught me that our justice system is against us. This is why I am trying to grasp how people tick in the political arena. An unjust remark can sway others if they find the humour of making derogatory comments appealing and it is not on that basis that I can make a personal decision. Of course some would say that I am not important enough to have an opinion (which is probably correct) , however it is not my importance that matters , only my vote.

  3. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted July 17, 2013 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    Much of the argument is based on fear (suspicion) of the European Court of Justice, a fear that appears not to be shared by the other 27 EU democracies.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 17, 2013 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      If that is so then it is time the others woke up, and here we are again with the UK leading the way … but wait, what is this?


      “Dutch government: “Time of ‘ever closer union’ in every possible area is behind us””

      “The 9 general principles include:

      Where the European Court of Justice interprets EU law in a way that EU legislators had not provided for and/or did not intend, then this should be possible to address by amending the EU rules on which the Court based its ruling … ”

      The only problem being that the Court would still have the final word on the interpretation of the amended rules just as it did on the unamended rules, and experience has repeatedly shown that its interpretations will always be heavily conditioned by its understanding that the promotion of “ever closer union” is of paramount importance, the member states having put that in the very first line of the preamble to the original Treaty of Rome and reiterated it in the preamble to the Maastricht Treaty; and while the Dutch government declares that the time of “ever closer union” in every possible area is behind us, it has chickened out of proposing that the treaties should be changed to make that clear.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted July 18, 2013 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

        @Denis: indeed, and thus opting out is not necessary, not for the Netherlands, not for the UK. Changes can be made much better by being fully involved.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted July 18, 2013 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

        @Denis, you may have read/ heard that the Italian prime-minister, visiting yours, repeated the Dutch statement on ever closer union. There are, IMHO, more than one way to achieve that, and why sing to your eurosceptic ulterior motives to have treaty changes in the hope that they will strand. You’re often a little too transparant my dear friend. If you want to leave the EU, then just join UKIP and lose. I’m pretty sure there will be some arrangement between the UK and the other members and the infamous referendum then will be won for the IN side. (mind you, I shouldn’t have said that, it’s much better for the time being to make big furore about the impending “Brexit” and attract some more UK located business to over here 🙂 )

        Reply We were told the UK would lose the City business if we did not join the Euro – how’s that prediction coming along? Why is Switzerland the richest European country per head?

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted July 18, 2013 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

          Cameron may say there should be no more “ever closer union”, and the Dutch Prime Minister may say there should be less “ever closer union”, the Italian Prime Minister may make sympathetic noises.

          But what matters is not what they say but what the treaties say, and the treaties unequivocally call for a process of “ever closer union”.

          So do you, or do you not, believe that the parties to a treaty should act in good faith, and keep to the terms of the treaty unless doing so becomes impossible?

          Cameron has at least called for the treaties to be changed to remove or maybe qualify the solemn commitment to a process of “ever closer union”, while Rutte has chickened out from following him, and the Italian appears to still want more “ever closer union”.

          Even if the governments of other EU member states agreed that Cameron could initiate renegotiation of the treaties there would be little no point in him doing that if we ended up still being committed to the same unceasing unlimited and largely uncontrollable process of “ever closer union”, a process of which we have already had more than enough.

          You may think that people in this country could be duped into accepting ephemeral non-binding assurances from politicians, British or foreign, but I hope they would realise that any such assurances would be absolutely worthless unless they were written in the treaties, not just in media reports of what politicians may state to be their intentions for their present convenience, as a temporary expedient, and even when written in the treaties they could still not be entirely trusted.

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted July 20, 2013 at 11:02 am | Permalink

            @Denis: We’ve been here before Denis. Cameron wants treaty change to piggyback his renegotiation onto, that is his self-interest, which is fine. Other leaders may want to wait and put more items in a, larger, treaty change, say in the year 2020. I see it as possible that the European Council would copy Mr Rutte’s statement in its minutes at some stage, as a temporary expression of EU policy, to be fine-tuned in the next treaty. There is no hurry to have new treaties, the EZ first has to secure its euro and economy, and that will dictate much of the agenda.

        • Peter van Leeuwen
          Posted July 18, 2013 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

          Reply to reply: Not my prediction, but I acknowledge that that prediction didn’t come along very well. Although This might still change in future, if the ECB were to decide that having all euro-denominated trade carried out in some foreign country. The UK (the domicile of more “fat” bankers than to be found in all other European nations combined), once outside the EU, may start to look very “foreign” to us, poor continentals.
          As for Switserland, compared to the other small and secretive banking nation, Luxembourg (in EU, in EZ), the Swiss look rather poor by your calculation.

        • lifelogic
          Posted July 19, 2013 at 11:00 am | Permalink

          To reply – Why does Cameron not want a Greater Switzerland and with seaports too? Why can he not tell us? Why does he pretend to negotiate a new deal non is available?

    • Deborah
      Posted July 17, 2013 at 8:50 am | Permalink

      This is not about the European Court of Justice. I would not wish to hand control of such an important area to any unaccountable body, inside or outside the UK.

      Other countries can do what they wish, but it is not wise to follow them without considering the consequences. That’s what lemmings do.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted July 17, 2013 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

        @Deborah: Implying that the other 27 democracies have not considered the consequences and act like lemmings is a little far-fetched if not slightly insulting. If they want changes to arrangements (e.g improve the EAW) they do so together, and a court (independent like in your country) may advise countries that don’t properly apply the arrangements. Real cooperation requires more than “island behavior”.

        • lifelogic
          Posted July 19, 2013 at 11:01 am | Permalink

          Well is suits the leaders very well but at the expense of the peoples.

    • Martyn G
      Posted July 17, 2013 at 8:51 am | Permalink

      No, no no! This is about the UK retaining our sovereignty and giving Parliament the right to make decisions affecting our national, as opposed to EU, interests. What, pray, is wrong with that concept?

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted July 17, 2013 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

        @Martyn G: Nothing wrong with your stated concept, I just observe that the other nations make a different choice in this case, apparently, like your police officers, and even your own government a few days ago, seeing the benefit of an overall European arrangement in e.g. the case of the EAW.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted July 17, 2013 at 8:54 am | Permalink

      As usual, you cannot understand that we want to govern ourselves, not be governed by an organisation over which the voters have no control.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted July 17, 2013 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

        @Brian Tomkinson: I’m well aware of the eurosceptic position, I just made an observation. Just to be kind and gentle, I didn’t even mention that many people among these “ourselves” (people in your country) don’t agree with you on these practical matters and don’t fear the institutional consequences.

        • A different Simon
          Posted July 18, 2013 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

          Peter ,

          There are a lot of people in the UK and Europe who are amenable to the idea of a society like the one described in Orwell’s 1984 .

          Give them a uniform and they will no doubt be happy to persecute anyone different from them who might be considered a threat to the state .

          There are Britons and Europeans who are right now sitting in prisons without even a date for a trial because the EU states which issued the warrant don’t recognise habeus corpus .

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted July 18, 2013 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

            I agree that the EAW should be amended and I believe it is already on the EU agenda to do so. But “no date for a trial” has often happened in the UK as well, think of the aftermath of problems in N. Ireland (1974) and nowadays the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005.

          • A different Simon
            Posted July 19, 2013 at 2:01 am | Permalink

            Peter ,

            You are quite right in “difficult” cases like “national security” and I too worry how many are legitimate .

            The fact is that there are people out there in prison on much lesser charges (that is if they have even been charged) .

    • backofanenvelope
      Posted July 17, 2013 at 9:29 am | Permalink

      Is that so?

    • forthurst
      Posted July 17, 2013 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      PvL “Much of the argument is based on fear (suspicion) of the European Court of Justice, a fear that appears not to be shared by the other 27 EU democracies.”

      Either that or a greater fear of their own judicial processes.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted July 17, 2013 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

        @forthurst: Just take the EAW as an example. Which EU countries would you suggest fear their own judicial processes?

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted July 17, 2013 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      If we were out, and of course the sooner the better, then it wouldn’t be the “other 27 EU democracies” but simply 27 foreign countries whose fears or not in relation to ours are irrelevant.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted July 17, 2013 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

        @Leslie Singleton: A typical example of “going it alone”. Fine with me and good luck!

        • Leslie Singleton
          Posted July 18, 2013 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

          Big difference between “going it alone” and not wanting to be subsumed and homogenised and of course who are you, as a foreigner (Dutch one gathers), to be telling us what to do? I don’t tell you what to do.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted July 19, 2013 at 6:58 am | Permalink

            Peter appears to be one of those who has shifted his primary allegiance from his own country to the EU.

            They are a small minority among the population of the EU, and an even smaller minority among that of the UK, but unfortunately they include a majority of our MPs.

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted July 19, 2013 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

            @Denis: sensible people, these MPs. It is not a matter of switching once allegiance, it is just a matter of seeing things in their proper perspective. One can be a British patriot and be pro -EU at the same time, even if you find that difficult to comprehend.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted July 20, 2013 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

            Peter, you may well think that it’s “sensible” for somebody to stand for election to the British Parliament pretending to be a British patriot in reality their primary allegiance is not to this country but to the EU. Others might choose alternative words to describe it, such as “cynical”, “amoral”, “fraudulent” and of course above all “anti-democratic”.

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted July 20, 2013 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

            @Denis: You seem to think that it is one or the other (either allegiance to the UK or else to the EU). I don’t see it that digitally, and even my allegiance to the Netherlands is somewhat stronger than to the EU. I may also feel some allegiance to groups of people and organisations. What could possibly be wrong with that? You may heve a slightly narrow perspective on “democratic”.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted July 21, 2013 at 7:44 am | Permalink

            Peter, it is one or the other; whatever intellectual gymnastics he may care to perform, an MP cannot simultaneously believe in the legal supremacy of Parliament and the primacy of EU law; again and again it is found that MPs who have pretended British patriotism to get elected, wrapping themselves in the Union Jack, have in reality fact thrown in their lot with the EU and will always put it first in the case of any conflict. If you feel that it’s OK for representatives of the people to get themselves elected under false pretences then I suggest that it’s you who has a strange idea of “democracy”, but than as somebody who is so assiduous in his promotion of the EU that’s only to be expected.

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted July 21, 2013 at 11:44 am | Permalink

            @Denis: How can you possibly miss it, it is so simple, and not requiring any intellectual gymnastics: Any prospective MP is bound by law, which includes the “European Communities Act 1972”, which specifies the relationship bewteen EU and national law. While the EC, the EP nor any EU institution has the power to “eject” the UK, the UK Parliament however, is empowered to revoke this European Communities Act, a simple illustration of its enduring supremacy. Any UK MP may figth elections with that intention, even though I would consider this extreme, it’s not my business.
            Joining the EU(EEC) was not a coup, nor an act of patriotic betrail, it was a democratic decision, endorsed by a supreme parliament.

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted July 21, 2013 at 11:46 am | Permalink

            @ Denis: Oops, disturbing typing error:
            . . . . the EC, the EP nor any EU institution DOES NOT HAVE the power to “eject” the UK, . . . .

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted July 22, 2013 at 7:47 am | Permalink

            On that false basis you could argue that the Netherlands would still be “democratic” even if its parliament had duly approved an amendment to the constitution to give absolute power to the King, so that all his decrees would automatically become law “without further enactment”, to borrow words from the UK’s European Communities Act 1972; and no doubt you would then say that it was just “sensible” for politicians who were in reality committed to supporting the absolute power of the King to pretend otherwise if they ever needed to win votes from the people.

    • Disaffected
      Posted July 17, 2013 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      No, nothing to do with fear. JR is spot on. It is about democracy and giving the people in this country the right to influence the criminal justice here for our culture, our values and our beliefs. What other countries do is a matter for them. We do not want to become part of an EU superstate- a one size fits all. Lib Dems do and Labour do the rest of us do not.

      Look at the perverse decision that life tariffs breach Human rights! Life sentence was introduced in exchange for the death penalty. The ECHR needs to think more about victims and innocent members of the public first before giving criminals rights above their own beliefs.

      The EU was prepared to sacrifice Greece to save the Euro this is the type of people they are, nothing democratic about the EU at all. Lied and lied to all nations to create a EU superstate by stealth without asking all people from all nations. Nothing democratic about this either.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted July 18, 2013 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

        @Disaffected: the fact that you mention so many unrelated issues of anger only illustrates my point about fear, or if you like distrust. The other democracies, by and large, don’t suffer from this . . . what’s the word? (peculiar perspective on all things European?)

      • uanime5
        Posted July 18, 2013 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

        Life sentence were introduced once the UK stopped sending criminals to Australia. The death penalty was abolished because there were several cases where innocent people were killed by the state.

        Just because someone is a criminal doesn’t mean they have no rights and can be abused any way the state sees fit.

        Actually Greece would have suffered far more if they’d crashed out of the euro and tried to introduce a new currency, which would have rapidly devalued.

    • JimS
      Posted July 17, 2013 at 11:31 am | Permalink

      If they have ceded law making to the ECJ then they are not democracies.

      Indeed this seems to be the reason for the politicians love of the EU; get a law passed via the back door and the EU ‘ratchet’ ensures it can never be revoked.

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted July 17, 2013 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

        @JimS: Interpreting treaties is not law-making. And if you amend treaties (something you do together with the other 27), then new interpretation follows.

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted July 18, 2013 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

          That’s strange, because the ECJ believes that it has “case-law”, and I presume that word “law” is there for a reason.

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted July 18, 2013 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

            Does the ECJ have “case-law”like in your common law? I don’t think that it’s quite as bad. Previous cases may have some weight in civil law but not as overriding as in common law, at least that is what I’ve been told.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted July 18, 2013 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

            Of course it does, Peter, and you’re invited to search it here:


            And wherever there is ECJ case-law that is the final word on the interpretation of the EU treaties and laws.

          • uanime5
            Posted July 18, 2013 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

            Case law is when the courts establish their own ruled regarding how to interpret existing laws (all common law courts do this). Once these laws are changed the case law is effectively destroyed.

          • Peter van Leeuwen
            Posted July 20, 2013 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

            @Denis: Here, I agree with uanime5. Courts under civil law (I suspect the ECJ is closest to civil law) also interpret laws, which themselves can only be changed by the body politics, the democracy.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted July 21, 2013 at 7:45 am | Permalink

            You agree with uanime5, but not out of ignorance.

    • Robert Taggart
      Posted July 18, 2013 at 11:08 am | Permalink

      PvL – indeed, but, are you own country folks not becoming more sceptical ? – of all things European ??
      The EU, CE, ECJ, ECHR… all sounds ‘double-dutch’ to Moi !

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted July 18, 2013 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

        @Robert Taggart: I especially like your moi with a capital M.
        Must be some reincarnation of Louis XIV.

        • Robert Taggart
          Posted July 19, 2013 at 11:20 am | Permalink

          That be all this sunshine ‘We’ be suffering !

        • Lindsay McDougall
          Posted July 19, 2013 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

          Did you never hear of MoideGaulle, beloved of Punch magazine.

  4. Alan
    Posted July 17, 2013 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    On the issue of principle it seems to me that we should either be wholly in the EU, or wholly out. I think we should be in. Neither those who support the EU or those who oppose it will be satisfied with a situation where we are “in” but with numerous opt-outs.

    On the issue of practicality, it seems to me that by negotiating numerous opt-outs we are giving ourselves extra trouble and expense without commensurate gains, and I imagine we will end up with a legal system of greater complexity than if we simply agreed with what we have already negotiated. Certainly the legal system of the EU as a whole will be more complex if we opt-out.

  5. Andyvan
    Posted July 17, 2013 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    So, given the history of the last 60 years we can look forward to the surrender of our opt outs by parliament at the earliest opportunity then?

  6. Mike Wilson
    Posted July 17, 2013 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    So …. what happened?

    Is there a web site we can go to – to see what happened in Parliament yesterday – what votes were had on what bills etc. – an explanation of the process (how many readings etc.) and stage we are at – an explanation (in plain English) of the scope and meaning of the bill – and, of course – how ‘your’ elected representative (many of whom only represent a minority of their constituents, of course) voted?

    Reply Yes, Hansard records the motion and the votes. The government accepted a revised motion over the week-end and then accepted a further amendment on MOnday. The result was Parliametn approved the opt out from all measures, and approved a process of scrutiny to be followed by a debate and vote on any opt ins.

    • Mike Wilson
      Posted July 17, 2013 at 8:40 am | Permalink

      Thank you for your reply: After a bit of trawling the Hansard site I found this …

      2014 JHA opt-out decision

      Motion made and Question proposed, That this House believes that the UK should opt out of all EU police and criminal justice measures adopted before December 2009 and seek to rejoin measures where it is in the national interest to do so and invites the European Scrutiny Committee, the Home Affairs Select Committee and the Justice Select Committee to submit relevant reports before the end of October, before the Government opens formal discussions with the Commission, Council and other Member States on the set of measures in Command Paper 8671, prior to the Government’s formal application to rejoin measures in accordance with Article 10(5) of Protocol 36 to the TFEU.-(Secretary Theresa May.)

      Amendment (c) moved, in line 1, to leave out from ‘House’ to end and add ‘believes the UK’s notification to the Council, Commission and Presidency to opt out of all EU police and criminal justice measures adopted before December 2009 can only be made once the Council and Commission have committed to the UK’s ongoing participation in the European Arrest Warrant, the Schengen Information System II, Joint Investigations Teams, EU Council decision 2000/375/JHA on combating internet child pornography, EU Council decision 2002/348/JHA on international football security co-operation, exchange of Criminal Records, Europol and Eurojust, which will form part of the Government’s formal application to rejoin the measures in Command Paper 8671 in accordance with Article 10(5) of Protocol 36 to the TFEU.’.-(Chris Bryant.)

      Question put, That the Amendment be made.

      The House divided.

      Division No. 59.

      Ayes: 237 (Tellers: Tom Blenkinsop, Jonathan Ashworth).

      Noes: 350 (Tellers: Nicky Morgan, Jenny Willott).

      Relatively unintelligible to the layman as the above is – it reads to me that the motion that ‘the house believes we should opt out’ was rejected. But you say ‘the government accepted’. I am confused.

      Reply The House rejected the Labour amendments, but accepted the amendment of the Joint Chairmen of Select Committees. The House therefore approved the opt out and set out a procedure for scrutiny and future vote on any opt ins without endorsing the provisional government list.

  7. Denis Cooper
    Posted July 17, 2013 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    “Those who vote for opt-ins vote because they do not like this country’s democracy and they vote themselves out of a job.”

    Well, the first part is certainly correct; but as for the second part, they still want to keep their jobs as MPs, and moreover they still want to be paid in full as if they themselves were putting in the effort to make decisions when in fact in many cases they and their predecessors have sub-contracted that process to transnational institutions.

    On top of which, we pay for those transnational sub-contractors as well as paying for the national contractors … which is an unusual arrangement, because normally it is down to the contractor to pay any sub-contractors, not send their bills to the client.

  8. alan jutson
    Posted July 17, 2013 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Thank you for speaking up, and making your points in such a clear manner.

    Rather like the:

    Will we still take our money, but say we can do nothing bit…..

    Which of course is what is happening to so many of the other Powers MP’s used to have, but which they have now given to the EU.

    I hope commonsense prevails and our Mp’s really do think long and hard before they even think about voting for any opt ins and the European Arrest Warrant.

  9. Denis Cooper
    Posted July 17, 2013 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Off-topic, the Labour MP Gisela Stuart had an interesting article yesterday:


    The most important point was made in the last sentence of the first paragraph:

    “The Government has repeatedly argued that a stable euro is in our national interest, without explaining what institutional architecture it envisages in an EU where, apart from us and Denmark, all other countries either already are, or by treaty obligation will become, members of the single currency.”

    Well, that may be because they don’t care to explain their long term plan that eventually when the UK is heading towards becoming the sole EU member state still in the “outer circle”, and all the other EU member states are already in or are about to be absorbed by the federalised eurozone “core” they say should be created, then a future government of whichever party or parties will declare that our increasingly “isolated” position is no longer tenable and announce its decision to take us into the euro, and not necessarily after asking us for our consent through a referendum.

  10. English Pensioner
    Posted July 17, 2013 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    I fully agree with you. Just as the Euro won’t work because of the differing financial regimes across the EU, nor will the EU arrest warrant work because of the differing justice systems.

  11. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted July 17, 2013 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    Well said!

  12. oldtimer
    Posted July 17, 2013 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    I agree with your position and appreciate the clarity with which you put it. It is a fundamental issue about the sovereignty of Parliament and the ability of the electorate to throw out those they have previously elected.

  13. behindthefrogs
    Posted July 17, 2013 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    This seems to be a case of using a sledge hammer to crack a nut. The arrest warrant has been used in a number of cases where the actual offence was too small to warrant its use. However this should result in a call to review with all participants the scope of its usage. It should not result in the UK backing out of its inolvement.

    We need to get away from this trying to get out of every European activity that doesn’t quite meet the UK’s aspirations and spend the effort changing them to something more acceptable. In the case of the arrest warrant most countries involved would support the changes that we need.

  14. Martin
    Posted July 17, 2013 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Do you really think other EU countries want to negotiate separate treaties with the UK? Most of them are probably reasonably happy with the present arrangements. They might well ask why they should spend time and money drawing up treaties with UK.

    Maybe the UK has lots of civil servants and money (although the poor sterling euro exchange rate might imply otherwise) but other countries might well decide they have better things to do.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted July 18, 2013 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

      I suppose it’s conceivable that some governments might adopt that stupid attitude.

      On the other hand, they might be sensible and decide that as they would no longer be able to extradite wanted persons from the UK using the EU Arrest Warrant they would have to agree to some other reciprocal arrangement.

      But as you seem to think that some of the governments of other EU countries may indeed be stupid, why are you so keen to let them vote on our laws?

  15. Terry
    Posted July 17, 2013 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    It is frightening that some Members are quite prepared to devolve more power to a unelected, foreign body. Wasn’t this the reason this country and the whole of Europe, went to war in 1939? The Nations of Europe did not want to be run by a single entity and sacrificed millions of their citizens lives to uphold their freedoms for the future generations.

    Now, look at us. What has happened here? Where has democracy gone? Was fighting WWII really worth it? I now wonder, for it appears to have done little for Britain but bankrupt the country, whereas Germany is now the most economically powerful country in Europe and seems to call the shots within the EU and the Eurozone.

    For the sake of this country and its future generations we must fight again and stop this march towards the neo-Marxist State before it kills us. I never voted for this and I certainly want no part of it. It is very sinister and is forming a very dark, ominous cloud over the whole of Europe.

    • uanime5
      Posted July 18, 2013 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

      Comparing the 1939 invasions by several European countries to an organisation that EU countries willingly joined is pretty misleading.

      If you’re wonder where democracy has gone try contacting your MEP.

      By “fight again and stop this march towards the neo-Marxist State” do you mean leave the EU or try to destroy it? I doubt that the UK will have any trade partners in Europe if we try the latter?

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted July 19, 2013 at 7:04 am | Permalink

        “If you’re wonder where democracy has gone try contacting your MEP.”

        Good luck with that.

      • Terry
        Posted July 25, 2013 at 8:14 am | Permalink

        You miss the point. I compare the EU with the CAUSE of WW2, namely, to prevent a foreign government taking control of another country, in particular, the UK. How is that misleading?

        With regards to your comment countries ‘willingly joining’ the EU. Well, the UK did not. It willing signed to join the EEC which was an entirely different entity and one that would benefit the UK. No one voted for a Federal State.
        Regarding my MEP, I know where democracy has gone. Down the pan. We merely have to watch UKIP v The Commissioners, in Brussels to establish that.

  16. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted July 17, 2013 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    It seems that we are still in the business of not conceding more power to the EU, whereas what is needed is to recover a massive amount of the power already conceded to this embryonic – and very ambitious – Federation. The Maastricht, Amsterdam, Nice and Lisbon Treaties, together with the commitment to ever closer Union, are the chains that bind us. Only by repealing our Acts of Accession to them will we ever be free. Don’t wait for renegotiation and a referendum. Do it on day one of taking office. Prepare the necessary bills now.

  17. Atlas
    Posted July 17, 2013 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    John – well argued.

    So far, so good. For me the big issue is that under the EAW people in the UK can have charges brought against them with no evidence having to be produced to a UK court to justify the extradition. But really the EAW is a step on the road to a Federal arrest warrant, which is the ultimate goal of the EUphiles.

  18. stred
    Posted July 17, 2013 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    Although, as you point out, UK citizens and perhaps EU citizens living here may be happy to accept exchange of anyone charged in the original member states, it is another matter with some of the newer members. In ex-communist states, many of the original lawyers were killed or sent to labour camps, then the communists running the system decided to go with the flow and are now in leading positions and in some cases living in the confiscated property of the purged classes. There is perhaps a continuation of the influence and connections behind the scenes of the supposedly new broom of EU control. The proposed automatic extradition to these countries is not something which true liberals should be enacting. The Libdums should be as ashamed of themselves.

    • uanime5
      Posted July 18, 2013 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      Funny how europhobes always claims the EU is Communist, despite it being entirely composed of capitalist countries who elect capitalist politicans.

      • Edward2
        Posted July 18, 2013 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

        Its even more funny than that Uni because when the Common Market was first being debated (before you were born I’d guess) all the left wingers in the UK were totally against it, claiming it was a capitalist plot to further exploit the workers by increasing the power of big business.
        But that changed when the Common Market became the EEC then the EC and now the EU when the left realised somewhere in that process it had gained enough power and so now right wingers don’t like the EU and “people like you” as Jerry says, love it.
        Funny old world.

  19. Bazman
    Posted July 17, 2013 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    Who would have ever thought buying a packets of tabs and smoking them could ever get so complicated?! LOL! Seriously what does this tell us about cigarette smoking? Freedom of choice anyone? Ram it.

  20. Adam Collyer
    Posted July 20, 2013 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    Whatever happened to the fabled referendum triple lock I wonder? If we opt out of all the measures, legally speaking, should there not be a referendum before we cede significant powers like the UAW back again?

  21. Police Science
    Posted July 25, 2013 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Criminal justice should not be govern by any one in democracy so that the victim get the justice and I agree with you that perfect justice law will help to get the correct justice to victim.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

  • John’s Books

  • Email Alerts

    You can sign up to receive John's blog posts by e-mail by entering your e-mail address in the box below.

    Enter your email address:

    Delivered by FeedBurner

    The e-mail service is powered by Google's FeedBurner service. Your information is not shared.

  • Map of Visitors

    Locations of visitors to this page