A ticking time bomb?
Quietly bubbling away under the surface is the potential withdrawal of Britain from the European Justice and Policing laws. Tory MPs are already incensed that a UK judge ruled that Abu Qatada will not be deported back to Jordan due to torture concerns, although that anger was directed towards the European Court of Human Rights. The coalition partners are currently keeping the pressure to stay within the ECHR in the near future and Mr Qatada may yet be deported.
However the real danger was the Conservative attack on the ECJ, which has gone largely unnoticed, but would be more catastrophic if Britain left it. The European Arrest Warrant, which Britain has to make a decision on in 2014, had an "opt" clause out for us due to previous Labour minister concerns. However on the 6th February, 102 Tory MPs wrote an open letter to the government to opt out of European justice and policing laws. These measures bring benefits such as sharing of national crime registers, cross border policing and quick extradition.
Therefore a vote has been promised in the House of Commons on whether Britain should opt out of the justice and policing laws. It is difficult to say which way the vote would go and whether the Lib Dems would be able to sway the Tory vote. Given the Tory rebellion in 2011 and how euro sceptic they are at the moment, it does not look hopeful. If Britain did opt out it may not be able to easily just “opt” back in as and when it liked.
As the 2014 opt out deadlines looms, we wait to see whether the time bomb will be activated.