Police weaker because of Tory spinelessness over Ukip
This article was originally published on Progress on the 27th October 2014 and can be found here. –
Tory panic over the United Kingdom Independence party is now so fevered they are ready to oppose anything associated with Europe, no matter how beneficial it is to the British people. That is why we are seeing rightwing Tory members of parliament demand that the government opt out of the European arrest warrant. If they get their way, hundreds of suspected foreign murderers, rapists and paedophiles would be set free on British streets, while British offenders abroad would escape being sent home to face justice.
Last year alone over 1,000 foreign criminals were deported from the UK thanks to the European arrest warrant. The most common offences included drug trafficking, murder, fraud, child sex offences and rape. No sane person would want to help people suspected of such serious crimes evade justice, but that is exactly where the growing Tory dread of all things European is taking them.
The arrest warrant not only allows for the swift removal of dangerous criminals from our shores, it also gives our police the power they need bring back British criminals who have fled abroad. This is a serious tool in the police armoury and it is shameful the Tories are considering removing it to help them manage their increasingly rebellious MPs.
Theresa May is still on the back foot after last week’s revelations that her department has failed to deport hundreds of foreign criminals. She took a break from managing the media over that particular disaster to back the European arrest warrant, but without saying when parliament will vote on the matter. Labour’s position is clear: we will vote to keep the European arrest warrant. At a time when the public are growing increasingly concerned about terrorists returning from their murderous adventures in Syria it would be a grotesque error to make it harder for the authorities to keep tabs on them as they travel across Europe. It could also mean foreign prisoners being kept for longer in British prisons – at the British taxpayer’s expense – rather than being returned to their own country.
The problem for the prime minister is a majority of his own MPs may well vote against the European arrest warrant to try and prove to Ukip-minded voters how anti-European they are. Aside from the humiliation of having to rely on opposition votes for a core crime and justice policy David Cameron would be faced with the awkward reality that forcing the issue would give some of his more wayward backbenchers the perfect excuse to defect to Ukip.
So we are left in the farcical position where the government of this country is prevented from taking the necessary action to preserve a key power for the police, the ability to quickly deport criminals and to stop those on the run from getting away, all because the spineless leadership of the Tory party is afraid of Ukip. When we are talking about the safety of people in this country, the first duty of any government, this simply isn’t good enough.
We have until 1 December to get this through the House of Commons or the powers will fall. Dither and delay is not an acceptable position. Watching the government cower before a few swivel-eyed loons on the fringes of their party would be entertaining were it not so serious for our country. Yvette Cooper has now written to May calling on her to bring the vote to the Commons as soon as possible.
The prime minister was fond, in the early days of the coalition, of saying that he was putting the national interest before his party interest. For once, it’d be nice if he did what he said.