Britain will become a haven for Europe’s rapists, murderers and child molesters without EU arrest warrant, Tories warn
- Home Secretary Theresa May says UK would be a ‘honeypot’ for criminals
- Tory MP Damian Green warns against axing arrest warrant as ‘sop’ to Ukip
- Critics say it makes it too easy to extradite Britons to other parts of Europe
Britain would become a safe haven for rapists, murderers and child molesters if it leaves the European Arrest Warrant, senior Tories warned today.
Home Secretary Theresa May claimed opting out of the pan-European extradition deal risks Britain becoming a ‘honeypot’ for European fugitives.
Amid signs Tory rebels will seek to reject the EAW in a vote later this month, former immigration minister Damian Green who warned leaving the scheme would be ‘really dangerous’.
Home Secretary Theresa May and former immigration minister Damian Green warned Britain would become a honeypot for Europe’s criminals if it leaves the European Arrest Warrant
Opponents of the EAW say it risks making it too easy for UK citizens to be extradited.
Some Conservative backbenchers have hinted at a revolt when the proposal comes to a vote in the Commons.
According to reports, Tory chief whipe Michael Gove and Justice Secretary Chris Grayling have urged David Cameron to ditch the plan in the face of a large-scale rebellion.
The vote is due within days of the Rochester by-election, in which Ukip is expected to triumph over the Tories, triggering more calls for a tougher line on Europe.
However, the Prime Minister has made clear that a revolt must be avoided.
Mrs May told the Sunday Times: ‘If we don’t have these measures in place, it will be harder to keep tabs on terrorists returning from Syria and travelling around Europe and we would have more foreign criminals in our prisons.
‘British criminals would be able to hop on to the Eurostar or fly to Spain, safe in the knowledge we wouldn’t be able to get them back to prosecute them.
Rapists, murderers, child molesters and so on, would think Britain is the place to go where you’ve got most chance of not being convicted
‘However we change our relationship with Europe, we will still need to have in place measures that allow us to share information about criminal records, extradite people in and out of the country to face justice and transfer prisoners back to their home countries. That would be true even if we left the EU altogether.’
She added that opting out would see the UK become ‘a honeypot for all of Europe’s criminals on the run from justice’.
The EAW is one of 35 measures the Government is seeking to opt back into after having opted out of a raft of more than 100 EU policies relating to justice and home affairs.
Supporters argue it has played a vital role in securing the return to the UK of suspects in significant crimes, including 21/7 bomber Osman Hussein, who fled to Italy, or teacher Jeremy Forrest, who was returned from France to face trial over the alleged abduction of a 15-year-old girl.
Mr Green upped the rhetoric today, telling BBC One’s Andrew Marr show that refusing to sign up to the warrant would be ‘much more than a sop to Ukip, that would be really dangerous’.
‘Rapists, murderers, child molesters and so on, would think ‘Britain is the place to go where you’ve got most chance of not being convicted for crimes you committed in the rest of Europe’. It would be very, very bad for the safety of our streets not to have the European Arrest Warrant.’
He added: I genuinely can’t understand why my eurosceptic colleagues have chosen this as a battle to fight because, not opting back into the European Arrest Warrant would make this a less safe country. We would be the country in Europe where all Europe’s criminals and terrorists would be inclined to come.’
David Cameron has made clear that the vote later this month should see Britain opt back into the European Arrest Warrant
But opponents claim UK citizens could be extradited on relatively minor charges to countries where they may have no guarantee of a fair trial.
Earlier this month Graham Brady, the chairman of the influential Conservative backbench 1922 Committee – seen as the voice of rank-and-file Tory MPs – became the most senior figure in the party to speak out and urge the Prime Minister to think again.
‘I feel very strongly we ought to be bringing powers back to the United Kingdom, back to British democratic control,’ he said.
‘We shouldn’t be ceding powers to the European institutions. I think it sends a message which is really very unhelpful.’
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper urged Mrs May to say when the government would be opting back into the EAW, pledging Labour support in a promised Commons vote on the issue.
Mrs Cooper said she was ‘pleased’ that Mrs May was supporting the measure
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2808591/Britain-haven-Europe-s-rapists-murderers-child-molesters-without-EU-arrest-warrant-Tories-warn.html#ixzz3HILEUouK
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook