Open Europe Blog

Could another Rees-Mogg Judicial Review lead to a referendum?

Update 17:00:
The Spectator Coffee House blog is reporting the Conservative Chief Whip may be preparing MPs for a decision to stay out of the EAW. However the line from Number 10  is that they are still “in principle seeking to opt back in.”
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Before 1 December, MPs will vote on whether to accept the Coalition’s decision to opt back in to around 35 EU Crime and Policing laws and, for the first time, accept the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice – or stay out completely. As we have written before, the choice is a straight one between “more or less EU control over UK crime and policing.”

But this flagship Coalition EU policy may fly in the face of another – the European Union (Referendum) Act 2011 – which was supposed to give the British people the final say on the transfer of powers to the EU. So why are we not going to see a referendum? Well as this decision was already in the pipeline, it was excluded when the Government drafted its legislation. However, other areas such as participation in the European Public Prosecutor would definitely require a referendum.

This division will now be tested in the Courts courtesy of a judicial review by Jacob Rees-Mogg MP and UKIP treasurer Stuart Wheeler who believe that not only does the decision to opt-in to the European Arrest Warrant require a referendum, but the EAW also contravenes Magna Carta and Habeas Corpus. [It is worth remembering that Rees-Mogg’s father and Stuart Wheeler have both previously brought legal actions against ceding of power to the EU]. As a legal opinion, commissioned by the Freedom Association, points out there are a number of serious problems including:

“With regard to the question of whether the UK’s opt-out from the jurisdiction of the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) will be rendered ineffective owing to the ability of the EPPO to initiate the issue of an EAW and secure its execution in the UK, it is quite clear that it would.”

It’s unlikely that the Courts will side with the appeal, but in any case, it’ll be interesting to follow what it has to say about it.

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