TORY PM Theresa May was yesterday accused of a ‘wholesale abandonment’ of Brexit promises by top QC Martin Howe. May’s controversial Chequers sell-out deal means courts will continue to be ruled by the EU, QC Howe warns.
In a new report, he says that under the terms of the Chequers White Paper, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ‘will have direct jurisdiction to bind the UK to make its law comply with the EU rulebook’. The Chairman of Lawyers for Britain slams the Prime Minister’s claims that the jurisdiction of the ECJ in the UK will end as ‘sophistry at best’.
The report says that under the Chequers White Paper, the UK will adopt a Moldova/Ukraine/Georgia model of submission to the rulings of the ECJ. Moldova/Ukraine/Georgia have agreed that in a dispute between them and the EU about whether they have correctly followed EU law, the dispute would not be decided by their own courts or a balanced international arbitration panel but instead by the rulings of the ECJ.
The report says that the Chequers White Paper’s claim about its proposed ‘joint reference’ procedure – that the court of one party cannot resolve disputes between the two – is simply not true because the ECJ’s rulings will have a binding effect, and the Commission will be able to force a case to be referred to the ECJ regardless of the UK’s wishes.
Therefore, ‘the UK would need to alter its law to comply with the ECJ’s ruling and would necessarily have to overrule any contrary judgments of the UK courts on the interpretation of a UK law in the “common” rulebook area’. Howe warns that signing up to a common rulebook means that the UK is not just bound by current EU rules but also to any future changes of the rules that are made by the ECJ. He goes on to say that although the UK will have to ‘pay due regard’ to the rulings of the ECJ, the EU will not have to pay ‘any regard at all’ to the rulings of the UK courts. This means that the UK is ‘explicitly subservient to the ECJ.’
Howe concludes: ‘It is clear that the Prime Minister has now broken the pledges she made in the Manifesto and in the Lancaster House speech. Within the “common” rulebook areas at least, it is quite clear that the interpretation of the laws applying within the UK will continue to be carried out by judges in Luxembourg, with judges in the UK having only a subservient role. ‘What is even more alarming than the PM’s wholesale abandonment of her promises on this subject is her repeated insistence in the face of reality that she has not abandoned them.’
Meanwhile, May has reportedly been warned by the chairman of her local Conservative association not to make any further concessions on her Brexit White Paper. Richard Kellaway said that if the plan agreed at Chequers ‘were to be diluted it would ultimately not be acceptable’, according to The Sunday Telegraph. He is one of seven chairmen of associations in constituencies held by Cabinet ministers who, the paper claims, either oppose the plan or would withdraw their backing for the Prime Minister if she ceded any more ground to the EU.
• Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has opened a new row with May and Chancellor Philip Hammond. In a letter to 10 Downing Street, Williamson warned that May and Hammond had taken the ‘wrong decision’ by failing to honour in full a recommended 2.9% pay rise for military personnel, of which Williamson had been ‘strongly in favour’.