Winston Churchill would be appalled. Not only is a Conservative-led government scheming to give 35 powers relating to justice back to the European Union, including the poisonous European Arrest Warrant, but the debate on the “EU Justice and Home Affairs Opt-Outs” in the House of Commons today was incredibly sparsely attended. Inalienable rights which Britons have enjoyed since the days of Magna Carta are to be turned over to an unaccountable foreign pseudo-state. Yet only a handful of MPs even bothered to turn up. That our own elected politicians should care so little about something so important is nothing short of obscene.
Important though the debate was to the future of justice in the United Kingdom, a paltry two dozen MPs or so were scattered throughout the entire chamber. While some spoke contentedly in favour of bending over for Brussels, mercifully the majority of MPs expressed righteous anger at the proposals from the government.
Thankfully, there are still some men and women of principle willing to stand up and be counted. Bernard Jenkins cut straight to the heart of the matter, questioning not only the Government’s behaviour and that of some of his parliamentary colleagues, but also challenging the terms of the debate itself:
“The very title of this debate… is itself misleading. The UK has already exercised our opt-outs from the justice and home affairs provisions under the Lisbon treaty. This is a debate whether the government should opt back IN to 35 of these measures…
“The Home secretary is proposing a major and permanent transfer of power from the UK to the EU, a transfer of more sovereignty but which nevertheless escapes a referendum under the European Union act, which is just another example of politicians seeking to provide reassurance to voters without actually meaning it.”
Special mention should also go to Sir Richard Shepherd, who gave one of the great Eurosceptic speeches of all time. In a rousing tribute to the nation state and the long-standing rights of all Britons to be treated fairly before the law, he attacked the proposed “grotesque shifting-out of the authority of the people,” claiming it was a “degredation of the security of the British people.” He spoke for so many of us in saying, “I think of the glory of Europe historically – the nation states of Europe, the cultures, the universities, the interconnectivity, but not the throttling blanket that the European Union now represents to many of us.” He should be given a knighthood, but he already has one!
The European Arrest Warrant is an odious device which enables foreign courts – oblivious to importance of Habeas Corpus, juries and the idea of being innocent before being proven guilty – to extradite British citizens abroad with ease. What Cameron and his ministers are proposing is nothing less than the betrayal of eight centuries of our rights before the law. Our thanks to those brave Eurosceptic MPs who are fighting hard against this betrayal.