Monday 19 February 2018

May insists UK will take back control of its laws after 'climbdown' claims

British Prime Minister Theresa May tours the Alexander Dennis bus and coach manufacturers factory in Guildford, Surrey, yesterday. Photo: Jack Taylor/PA
British Prime Minister Theresa May tours the Alexander Dennis bus and coach manufacturers factory in Guildford, Surrey, yesterday. Photo: Jack Taylor/PA

Sam Lister

Prime Minister Theresa May insisted Britain will "take back control" of its laws after being accused of a climbdown on axing links with European courts.

Mrs May insisted it was "absolutely clear" that leaving the European Union will mean leaving the authority of the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

Critics have claimed that UK government papers that set out plans only to end "direct" jurisdiction will allow continued legal interference from Europe.

Speaking during a visit to Guildford, Mrs May said: "What is absolutely clear, when we leave the European Union we will be leaving the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.

"What we will be able to do is to make our own laws.

"Parliament will make our laws. It is British judges who will interpret those laws and it will be the British Supreme Court that will be the arbiter of those laws.

"We will take back control of our laws."

A paper being published by David Davis's Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU) yesterday said it was not "necessary or appropriate" for the ECJ to have direct authority over UK law after Brexit, adding that it would be "unprecedented" for it to do so.

The paper sets out a range of alternative models for dealing with legal disputes with the remaining 27-nation bloc, and said that Britain is in a "position of strength" to forge new arrangements suited to its own circumstances.

But Justice Minister Dominic Raab said Britain will have to keep "half an eye" on ECJ rulings even after it has left the direct jurisdiction of the Luxembourg-based judges.

The Brexit minister said, however, it was "absolutely and wholesale wrong" to suggest that Britain would still be forced to go along with foreign judges in a foreign court after EU withdrawal.

"Our commitment as a government since the referendum has been crystal clear - we're ending the jurisdiction of the European Court over disputes between the EU and the UK, that's not on the table," Mr Raab told BBC Radio 4's 'Today' programme.

"But look, let's also be clear about it - when we leave the EU we are taking back control over our laws.

"There will be divergence between the case law of the EU and the UK, and it is precisely because there will be that divergence as we take back control that it makes sense for the UK to keep half an eye on the case law of the EU, and for the EU to keep half an eye on the case law of the UK."

Leaving the ECJ is a totemic goal of many Brexiteers.

But the exact relationship between UK and EU law is one of the most explosive elements of the ongoing withdrawal negotiations.

The European Commission insists the court should oversee the implementation of the withdrawal agreement and rights of EU citizens in the UK after Brexit.

Irish Independent

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