David Cameron’s plan for this autumn was to largely avoid the topic of Europe at his party’s conference, then to focus on the issue later in the year. It’s only a few days since the Tories gathered in Birmingham, and the Prime Minister is already facing a big week on Europe.
Home Secretary Theresa May will kick things off by announcing today that she wants Britain to opt out of more than 130 European Union measures on law and order, including the European Arrest Warrant. The opt-out itself, which the Home Secretary is expected to say Britain is ‘minded’ to do, is not the tricky bit: it’s which measures to then opt back into. The Liberal Democrats will be keen for the government to return to many more measures than Conservative ministers are prepared to do, and in turn ministers may be minded to opt back in to more measures than eurosceptic Tory backbenchers would like. There will also be a row with the police over the European Arrest Warrant: it was only a few weeks ago, after all, that the warrant was used to apprehend teacher Jeremy Forrest in France with schoolgirl Megan Stammers. The government wants a warrant with reduced powers.
Later in the week, Cameron will attend a dinner of the 27 EU leaders in Brussels to discuss the new banking rules for the eurozone. At this dinner, the Prime Minister will be looking for safeguards for the single market, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this week.
But now that Parliament is back, MPs will be waiting for more detail on what the Prime Minister’s negotiating position is with the EU. The Mail reports that eight cabinet ministers want him to threaten to leave the union if he doesn’t get what he wants over the next few months. And this week will also see the first meeting of the all-party parliamentary group for an EU referendum.