Great Britain

Brexit: UK could be thrown out of European Arrest Warrant system, government admits

The UK is set to be thrown out of the European Arrest Warrant system after Brexit, the Queen's Speech admits, triggering a warning it will become “a haven for Europe’s worst criminals”.

Boris Johnson has unveiled plans for an extradition bill, to ensure “a person wanted by authorities in a trusted country for a serious crime is arrested quickly”.

The measure will also give the police powers to arrest someone wanted for a serious crime in a non-EU country “without having to apply to a court for a warrant first”.

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But the government has admitted it will also be needed in dealings with EU countries “in the event that the UK no longer had access to the European Arrest Warrant after leaving the EU”.

Previously, ministers have admitted the arrest warrant is at risk if there is a no-deal Brexit – a risk they now argue has been averted by the prime minister’s deal.

Diane Abbott, Labour’s shadow home secretary, said she had argued “over and over again” during the election campaign that the fast-track power of arrest would be lost.

“They denied that there was a problem. Another lie from Boris Johnson’s Tories. We will be less safe under the Tories,” she said.

And Christine Jardine, the Lib Dem home affairs spokeswoman, said: “By throwing away the European Arrest Warrant, Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal would make the UK a haven for Europe’s worst criminals.

“The European Arrest Warrant has helped bring thousands of fugitives to justice, including murderers, terrorists and drug traffickers. Without it, thousands more will walk free.”

Earlier this year, James Cleverly, the Conservative party chairman, insisted security co-operation would continue seamlessly outside the EU.

However, the home office also admitted a year ago that it had given up on remaining a member of the EU crime-fighting body Europol – with the arrest warrant now in line to follow.

The extradition bill is ostensibly designed to introduce fast-track arrest and extradition arrangements with “trusted” non-EU countries.

It promises to “preserve the role of the courts in extradition proceedings, which will be unaffected by this bill”.

“A wanted person will still be brought before the court within 24 hours of their arrest,” it states.

“But the current risk of absconding during the period between being encountered by the police and applying for a warrant will be removed.”

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