18:32 GMT23 July 2021
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    Senior UK government ministers were caught out "trying to be a bit too clever" during Monday night's House of Commons debate on whether to join European Union justice measures, according to a London-based think tank.

    Prime Minister David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May are facing fierce criticism after only 11 European justice and home affairs measures were included in a motion put before the Commons on Monday, while MPs had believed they would be voting on a 35-part package.

    Senior political analyst Christopher Howarth from London-based think-tank Open Europe said that the government's decision not to include a measure relating to the EU's arrest warrant laws was fully legal, but went against an earlier promise of giving MPs a chance to vote on the controversial matter.

    "Only 11 out of the 35 needed specific legislation to opt back into the agreement. So that was the reason why the motion only mentioned 11 of them. But they could have easily had a different motion that included a specific vote on the whole package, but they decided to go on the narrower version, probably in the hopes of minimising the number of MPs that vote against it. But it seems they were trying to be a bit too clever and came unstuck," he said.

    The British government last year voted to opt out of more than 100 EU justice measures over concerns about their relevance to the UK.

    The changes are due to come into effect on December 1, with the UK to vote on re-joining 35 measures of the EU legislation.

    Of those 35, only 11 need House of Commons approval, while the others, including the measure on overseas arrest warrants, can apparently be re-signed by the government without a vote by MPs.

    A number of Conservative MPs have raised concerns over the changes, as it would for the first time give the European Court of Justice power over local authorities in regards to extradition and arrest warrant laws.

    "It was always going to be a difficult issue [for PM David Cameron] to sell to his own MPs, as this would result in the European Courts of Justice having jurisdiction for the first time in these areas. So it was always going to be a difficult conversation to have with his own party. But the way in which it was done — seemingly trying to avoid having a specific vote on the European arrest warrant — has made matters worse. A vote had been promised before they made that decision, which is why the MPs felt to a certain extent that they'd been duped," Mr Howarth said.

    All 35 measures, including the issues related to arrest warrant laws are now likely to be re-signed before the December 1 deadline, particularly given that the Labour and Liberal-Democrat parties support the law.

    However, Mr Howarth says a large part of the opposition comes from within David Cameron's party.

    "The government was never likely to lose the vote. On the Conservative side, the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice for the first time was the main objection, and of the 11 that were passed, many of them haven't actually come into force yet, so the potential problems with them will not have arisen yet. The European arrest warrant has been around since 2004 and there has been a number of tough cases that MPs have had to deal with — with people being sent to jails in other countries without proper legal redress. The other ones are new, so the problems haven't arisen yet, but I suspect that they probably will."

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