Theresa May Appears To Leave Door Open For ECJ Jurisdiction in UK
Prime Minister Theresa May (pictured above) has been accused of leaving the door open for continuing jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in the UK following Brexit, after she used a form of words to say that the body would have no ‘direct’ jurisdiction over the UK post March 2019. Many commentators have interpreted the comments as an indication would still continue to influence UK law post-Brexit.
A UK government spokesperson said: “We have long been clear that, in leaving the EU, we will bring an end to the direct jurisdiction of the court of justice of the European Union in the UK.”
The spokesperson added: “It is also in everyone’s interest that, where disputes arise between the UK and the EU on the application or interpretation of these obligations, those disputes can be resolved efficiently and effectively.”
Judicial independence is a totemic issue for Brexiters, and May sought to reassure them in her Lancaster House speech in January that she would “take back control of our laws and bring an end to the jurisdiction of the European court of justice in Britain”.
She added: “Leaving the European Union will mean that our laws will be made in Westminster, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast. And those laws will be interpreted by judges not in Luxembourg but in courts across this country.”
Opposition politicians said that the paper represented a U-turn by ministers. The shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, said: “The repeated reference to ending the ‘direct jurisdiction’ of the ECJ is potentially significant. This appears to contradict the red line laid out in the prime minister’s Lancaster House speech and the government’s white paper, which stated there could be no future role of the ECJ and that all laws will be interpreted by judges in this country.”
He added: “Nothing the government says it wants to deliver from Brexit – be it on trade, citizens’ rights or judicial cooperation – can be achieved without a dispute resolution system involving some role for European judges.”
The Liberal Democrat leader, Vince Cable, said: “We welcome this sensible and long overdue climbdown by the prime minister. It shows Theresa May’s red lines are becoming more blurred by the day.
“The government seems to have belatedly accepted it won’t be possible to end the EU court’s influence in the UK without damaging our free trade and security cooperation with Europe.”
Tory MP and leading Leave campaigner Bernard Jenkin said: “The ECJ should not have any role in interpreting any agreement between the EU and the UK.”
He told the Daily Telegraph: “No non-EU country will be much interested in talking to us about a free trade agreement if we still look hobbled by our relationship to the EU.”
Westmonster Dave is the News Editor of Kipper Central.