Conservative Diary

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Summer of Tory love soured by European Arrest Warrant stance

By Paul Goodman
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James Wharton's EU referendum bill and Theresa May's Abu Qatada deportation have sweetened the mood on the Conservative backbenches, particularly as far as the Home Secretary is concerned. However, I'm picking up signals that her stance on EU criminal justice measures is seriously souring the spirits of some (which are ever mercurial).  May's position is to opt out of almost 100 of the measures but to opt back into about 35 of them, including the arrest warrant.

One very senior backbencher told me that the move is incompatible with any serious Downing Street plan to repatriate powers, and another claimed that the Government is rushing the Commons to vote on the matter, next Monday, before opposition has the chance to gather momentum.  In the light of the decision, Downing Street's charm offensive, capped with a barbecue at Number 10 recently, was described to me as "offensive and patronising".

There were shouts of "shame" from the Conservative benches when the Home Secretary announced her decision earlier.  It's hard to estimate whether the Government will be opposed from the backbenches next week by more than the usual suspects, but EU policy is a time-bomb for David Cameron.  I keep pointing out that renegotiation policy has the potency to knock the Prime Minister off his stride, and even Ed Miliband's woes with Unite don't obviate that fact.


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