Britain's criminal law 'will be
run by Brussels'
By Benedict Brogan,
British criminal law will be taken over gradually by
Brussels under clauses in the draft European constitution, Oliver
Letwin, the shadow home secretary, claimed last night.
He accused the Government of misleading the public,
saying the detail of the document to be debated by EU leaders this
month concealed measures that would erode parliamentary
Mr Letwin stepped up Tory calls for a referendum on
whether the constitution should be introduced only hours after Tony
Blair assured MPs it would do nothing "fundamentally" to alter the
The Convention on the Future of Europe, chaired by
Valery Giscard d'Estaing, the former French president, has drafted a
European constitution that is due to be agreed next year. The
Government says it would unify the different treaties that form EU
The Tories claim that its detail conceals measures
for handing over sovereignty on key areas, including defence, tax
and law and order.
Mr Letwin said: "The latest draft of the new European
constitution gives the EU a wide range of new powers to control
criminal law in Britain."
In a speech to the Euro-sceptic Bruges Group, he
added: "Under the constitution Britain will not be able to use its
veto to stop EU legislation that defines serious crimes and
sentences for such crimes.
"Britain will also not be able to veto moves by the
EU to expand the area of criminal law over which the Union takes
"For too long, the Government and those intent in
Brussels on creating a European superstate have expected that people
in Britain will not notice the implications of treaty clauses that
create the basis for the EU to gradually expand its powers.
"But the game is up."
Mr Blair told MPs: "Foreign and defence policy is
going to remain with member governments, it is not going to be
transferred to the European Commission.
"So the case that somehow we are about to hand over
British foreign policy or defence to the European Union is simply
• Last night, Mr Blair held his first full one-to-one
meeting with President Chirac since they fell out over the Iraq
He sought to bridge deep differences over the
European constitution when the French president entertained him to
dinner at the Elysee Palace as they tried to seal a rapprochement
before the EU summit in Greece next week.
They met alone without translators, a sign that they
hoped to make private accords on policy issues.