Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Misdirection that is almost worthy of Agatha Christie

As every fan of detective stories knows, there are no misdirections like Christie's misdirections. One pootles along happily, convinced that one can at least guess what the solution of a mystery is going to be and then one is thrown for a loop. The solution is completely different and, what is so irritating, completely logical and fairly signposted. As Robert Barnard, another excellent detective fiction writer, once said, with other writers, the reader on being offered the solution, wants to kick them; with Christie the reader wants to kick himself. (Or words to that effect and himself includes herself.)

I am not suggesting that our not so beloved government is in the same league of misdirection but it is not doing badly. Take the Home Office and the egregious Home Secretary, Theresa May. (Well, OK, I'll take them for the time being.) Not only has that wretched woman banned a couple of American bloggers to make up for the fact that Abu Qatada has finally left these shores, not only has she or her Department been economical with the truth as far as the Magnitsky list is concerned (subjects that need a more detailed coverage) but she and her minions are busy misdirecting people's attention on the subject of the various EU agencies, directives and regulations that affect the UK.

To start with, as this blog has pointed out before, far from the UK opting out of anything (a more or less impossible action), it has been busily opting in to agencies and agreements that they had not been in before (here and here). They are playing that game again while trying to misdirect the voters's attention, no doubt, in order to show at some later date that they are capable of opting out or changing relationships or reforming something or other as long as the country votes to stay in the European Union.

The EUObserver reports
The UK wants to retain 35 EU-wide police and justice laws out of some 130 in its wider efforts to claw back power from the EU.

“We believe the UK should opt out of the measures in question for reasons of principle, policy, and pragmatism,” UK home secretary Theresa May told ministers in London on Tuesday (9 July).

Tory-right wingers want to repatriate all 133 laws, but May said the UK should retain its co-operation with the EU police agency, Europol, and the EU's joint judicial authority, Eurojust.

“We should opt in post-adoption provided that Europol is not given the power to direct national law enforcement agencies to initiate investigations or share data that conflicts with our national security,” she noted.

The European Arrest Warrant will also figure into UK’s provisional opt-in list but with added conditions to better protect British nationals of extradition to other member states in case of minor offences.
This is not clawing back (the latest dramatic phrase the government and its spinners like to use) powers but merely weighing up how to deal with matters that were decided in the Treaty of Lisbon.
The UK has to accept all 133 measures, made before the Lisbon Treaty was adopted in 2009, or reject them all. If it rejects them all, it can then opt back into individual laws it wants to keep.

The decision must be made by June 2014 or all the EU laws, as of December of the same year, will be subject to oversight by EU judges as well as the European Commission’s enforcement powers.

“Following our discussions in Europe, another vote will be held on the final list of measures that the UK will formally apply to rejoin,” said May.

Some senior government officials see the move as part of David Cameron’s push for an in/out referendum on its EU membership.
Presumably, there will be a vote to reject the 133 measures, as it is unlikely that any MP will have the time to read the 159 pages that explain HMG's plans and over the following months, with neither the media nor the electorate paying much attention, there will be wholesale opt-ins.

In the meantime, let us be quite clear: we shall not be rejecting the European Arrest Warrant, no matter what some over-excited Tories might say. According to the Guardian, the UK government will join with other like-minded governments in an attempt to reform the EAW. Good luck with that. After all, reforming the EU and its various aspects has been such a successful process for the UK and its assorted governments.

The Daily Telegraph is equally blunt:
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, is today expected to announce that Britain will continue to take part in more than 30 pan-European crime and justice programmes. These will include the European arrest warrant – which allows foreign police forces to summon Britons and for detectives in this country to extradite suspects from the continent.

Britain will also remain a member of Europol, the EU’s law enforcement agency, and Eurojust, the EU’s judicial co-operation unit.

However, a new “proportionality test” will be introduced which is intended to stop Britons accused of low-level offences from being sent abroad and potentially held in custody while they await trial.

MPs will be given a vote on the new EU deal next week – which is expected to be opposed by dozens of Conservatives who have demanded that Britain opt-out of all pan-European crime and justice measures.
Another "rebellion", eh? Well, I wonder how many will take part in it this time?

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