The Government’s motion in favour of the Justice & Home Affairs opt-out was easily passed. However this was only after they conceded an amendment from Bill Cash & other Select Committee chairmen, which led to the final motion omitting the Government’s list of measures they planned to opt back in to. The actual number of votes was 341 to 244.
This is a good result for EUsceptics, but this vote was merely ‘the end of the beginning’. Next comes the battle over which measures the Government will attempt to restore by negotiating re-opt-ins for the UK. There will be reports from relevant Select Committees, followed by another debate in Parliament.
Currently MPs are just starting a second, related debate over a possible opt-in to a new Europol regulation. The Government plans to opt-in, but only “provided that Europol is not given the power to direct national law enforcement agencies to initiate investigations or share data that conflicts with national security”.
We’re relieved that the Government is at least putting this caveat on the opt-in, but the real question is why we would want to stay another minute in a European Union that aspires to put British police under the direction of a foreign, supranational police agency?