Theresa May is criticised for her handling of the European Arrest Warrant vote. Photo: BBC
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35 Tories rebel after Speaker halts May on European Arrest Warrant

Disarray in the House after the Speaker gives backbenchers a chance to clarify this evening’s debate on European crime measures.

This article originally appeared on the New Statesman's election website May2015. Follow it on Twitter @May2015NS.

What is going on in the House?

Points of order are flying, the Home Secretary is speaking in disjointed hesitations and Labour sense a chance to escape a torrid news cycle.

The furore is over what exactly parliament are debating, and whether the government is trying to use tonight’s vote to pass measures they haven’t give the House a chance to debate.

The issue at hand is a package of European crime measures. The government opted out 110 of the measures last year but are now partially opting back into 35 of them.

These include a contentious measure know as the European Arrest Warrant. It is opposed by dozens of backbench Tory MPs and Ukip (who protested against it outside the House today).

The debate this evening was meant to be on only 10 of the EU crime measures, and not the EAW. Except Theresa May and the government tried – and still appear to be trying – to suggest that a vote for those measures would also given them approval to opt into the EAW.

In winning approval in this way, it was hoped the government would escape a fight with its backbenchers, who would not approve the EAW in a clearly stated debate.

The problem for the government is the Speaker, John Bercow, suggested members would have some “latitude” to discuss the measures the government has excluded from tonight’s motion, but is planning to opt-into.

During the debate, that “latitude” turned into a scarcely veiled criticism by Bercow that “Most of us think a commitment made is a commitment that should be honoured”.

He was referring to David Cameron’s promise to hold a vote on EAW before next week’s Rochester by-election. There ensued a farce where David Davis summed up the mood of the House by telling Bercow “We are debating we know not what”.

Continued calls were made for May to clarify whether the House was actually debating the EAW, and whether the government would take a vote tonight as a vote for EAW.

Bercow clarified that “the vote is on the regulations, not the European Arrest Warrant”, and then the House divided for a vote on whether to extend the current non-debate of the EAW, or have a longer debate which would, presumably, have involved a more direct debate on the EAW.

After reportedly rushing Tories MPs to the House – including the Prime Minister himself – the government passed the motion to continue their shorter debate by just nine votes. 35 Tory MPs rebelled against the motion, seeking a fuller debate on the EAW.

It remains unclear whether May will try to use tonight’s vote as an endorsement for the EAW. Labour’s Chris Bryant has asked whether she will permit a direct vote in the next week, but has so far received no answer.

May2015 is the New Statesman's new elections site. Explore it for data, interviews and ideas on the general election.

#Match4Lara
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#Match4Lara: Lara has found her match, but the search for mixed-race donors isn't over

A UK blood cancer charity has seen an "unprecedented spike" in donors from mixed race and ethnic minority backgrounds since the campaign started. 

Lara Casalotti, the 24-year-old known round the world for her family's race to find her a stem cell donor, has found her match. As long as all goes ahead as planned, she will undergo a transplant in March.

Casalotti was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in December, and doctors predicted that she would need a stem cell transplant by April. As I wrote a few weeks ago, her Thai-Italian heritage was a stumbling block, both thanks to biology (successful donors tend to fit your racial profile), and the fact that mixed-race people only make up around 3 per cent of international stem cell registries. The number of non-mixed minorities is also relatively low. 

That's why Casalotti's family launched a high profile campaign in the US, Thailand, Italy and the US to encourage more people - especially those from mixed or minority backgrounds - to register. It worked: the family estimates that upwards of 20,000 people have signed up through the campaign in less than a month.

Anthony Nolan, the blood cancer charity, also reported an "unprecedented spike" of donors from black, Asian, ethcnic minority or mixed race backgrounds. At certain points in the campaign over half of those signing up were from these groups, the highest proportion ever seen by the charity. 

Interestingly, it's not particularly likely that the campaign found Casalotti her match. Patient confidentiality regulations protect the nationality and identity of the donor, but Emily Rosselli from Anthony Nolan tells me that most patients don't find their donors through individual campaigns: 

 It’s usually unlikely that an individual finds their own match through their own campaign purely because there are tens of thousands of tissue types out there and hundreds of people around the world joining donor registers every day (which currently stand at 26 million).

Though we can't know for sure, it's more likely that Casalotti's campaign will help scores of people from these backgrounds in future, as it has (and may continue to) increased donations from much-needed groups. To that end, the Match4Lara campaign is continuing: the family has said that drives and events over the next few weeks will go ahead. 

You can sign up to the registry in your country via the Match4Lara website here.

Barbara Speed is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman and a staff writer at CityMetric.