Tory MEPs are rebelling against their own government’s position as new laws on motoring offences are debated in the European Parliament.
Under legislation being voted on today in Strasbourg, British drivers caught speeding or committing other motoring offences in Europe will face fines and could even lose their license, the Telegraph reports.
The new measures will give police the power to pursue offenders across borders and issue fines. Currently they only face a financial penalty if they are stopped by a police officer at a roadside.
The rules, which the vast majority of MEPs are supporting, will cover penalties for speeding, jumping red lights, drink driving and other offences including using a mobile phone while driving.
Hot on the heels of the power for police to chase motorists across borders and access UK driving records will be a European Commission proposal to introduce the “harmonisation of penalty points” where motorists who commit motoring offences abroad will get points on their UK licence.
The move has been opposed by the roads minister Robert Goodwill who said that the plans are “inappropriate” and would be opposed by Britain.
“A Conservative government would ensure these proposals do not see the light of day,” an official source said.
Yet Conservative MEPs who have gathered in Strasbourg for the monthly voting session said they would be supporting the legislation.
Their Transport and Tourism Spokesman Jacqueline Foster said the proposals would help the police tackle foreign drivers who disregard road safety and the law.
The North-West MEP said: “Most drivers who bring their vehicles onto British roads do so with consideration and respect for road safety. But some do break the rules and the consequences can be serious.
“There may even be those who repeatedly ignore the law because they think they can never be punished. That makes me angry.
“The measures which we are backing, and which our Conservative-led Government supports, will go some way into giving our authorities more of a fighting chance when it comes to imposing the law and seeing that justice is done.”
Britain will have an extra two years to meet the requirements so the DVLA can update their systems. Under the new rules which will come into force in 2017, authorities in other EU countries will be able to trace owners and their addresses through a car’s registration plates. They can then send letters demanding payment and threatening court action.
In contrast to MEPs in the European parliament, Mr Goodwill said: “We will defend the rights of British drivers and we have been clear throughout the negotiations that people’s private data must be protected. Nothing in the new directive will allow a country to impose penalty points on the licence of a driver from another member state. The government will oppose any such proposal.”
UKIP Transport Spokesperson Jill Seymour MEP said “The Tories are completely divided on this EU legislation. The Tory government say they will oppose it while Tory MEPs say they will vote for it.
“Ukip are completely united in their will that only British authorities have access to the data about British drivers. The EU harmonisation of legislation means the centralisation of power in Brussels. The LibLabCon may consent to this but UKIP never will.”
She added, “LibLabCon MEPs are happy for you to lose your license: Just ask them about it in May.”
A Department For Transport spokesperson said: “It must not be easier for British drivers to be prosecuted abroad than for foreign drivers to be prosecuted in the UK; we have made this clear from the outset of the negotiations.”