British lawmakers back EU justice measures after row

10th November 2014, Comments 0 comments

British Prime Minister David Cameron's government won a bid to sign up to EU justice measures after a bruising and dramatic row in parliament on Monday.

Cameron had promised a vote on whether to join the European Arrest Warrant system , but appeared to back out of this under threat of a rebellion by eurosceptic lawmakers who oppose it.

Instead, a vote was held on only 11 measures out of the proposed 35, those which needed to be "transposed" into British law, according to interior minister Theresa May.

However, May said that the outcome of the vote would nevertheless indicate a decision on all 35 measures including the contested arrest warrant.

The government won the vote with an overwhelming majority, after a chaotic session during which the opposition Labour party used a rare parliamentary motion to try to delay the vote.

Parliamentary speaker John Bercow said the decision not to vote on the European warrant was "contemptuous" of the British public.

"This has been a sorry saga," he said.

Cameron faced angry criticism from within his own party during the debate.

"This is a travesty of our parliamentary proceedings," said Bill Cash, a senior Conservative parliamentarian.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, a Tory rightwinger, accused the government of "underhand" tactics, while Conservative Richard Shepherd described the move as "sly" and indicating "executive arrogance".

The row broke out amid growing tensions between London and Brussels and increased public support for the anti-EU UK Independence Party, which has pushed the government into an increasingly hawkish attitude on immigration and budget issues.

Some Conservative MPs have opposed the warrant, saying it will make it too easy for Britons to be extradited on relatively minor charges.

But the government has argued it would keep the country safer and allow for easier deportations.

The government opted out of all EU police and criminal justice measures last year, but now wants to re-join some of them before that decision comes into effect on December 1.

The unease within the Conservative party comes after two of its lawmakers defected to UKIP, forcing two by-elections in their constituencies that have revealed a surge in support for the anti-EU party.

UKIP is expected to gain its second seat in parliament in a by-election in Rochester and Strood in southeast England in ten days time.

© 2014 AFP

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