May accused of Brexit U-turn on European Union court role

The twin towers built for interpreters and translators at the European Court of Justice Luxembourg

The European Court of Justice should not have "direct jurisdiction" in Britain after Brexit, the government said Tuesday, in what opponents labelled a "climbdown" from calls to sever ties completely. This policy, which was always unworkable for a country which has the EU as its largest single market, has now been significantly watered down, with May now insisting only that there will no longer be "direct" jurisdiction from the European Court of Justice.

The relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Court of Justice (ECJ) was one of the key battlegrounds of the referendum campaign.

The UK is seeking a new arrangement which would "mirror closely" the European Union system for deciding which country's court should hear a civil, commercial or family dispute raising cross-border issues, whose laws should apply and how decisions should be enforced.

Technically, the language used in the government's position papers is consistent with what Theresa May has said about the ECJ in the past.

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer added that the "repeated reference to ending the "direct jurisdiction" of the ECJ is potentially significant".

If so, then the British would not have entirely "taken back control" of their own laws.

May insisted the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) will end after Brexit, but there remained questions over whose laws will apply to EU citizens in the United Kingdom and for businesses that operate across national borders.

And the Institute for Government says that parliament should give a clearer steer to judges to avoid "passing the buck to the judiciary".

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Britain could still be subject to some rulings by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) after Brexit, in what some have described as a climbdown by Prime Minister Theresa May.

Having analysed Britain's dependence on the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Investment Fund (EIF), techUK, the organisation championing the British tech industry, has warned that leaving the EU could make it harder for United Kingdom startups to raise money. The paper confirms what already appeared to be the case from the UK's Repeal Bill, namely that the United Kingdom plans to transpose the European rules on conflict of laws, Rome I and II, into domestic law.

"So the fact that these papers are coming out is, as such, welcome because we see this as a positive step towards now really starting the process of negotiations".

On citizens' rights - which the European Union said must be guaranteed by the ECJ - the paper said: "Those rights and obligations will be enforced by the UK courts and ultimately the UK Supreme Court".

This position has already proven to be a sticking point in negotiations over the rights of EU citizens living in the United Kingdom, with Brussels reported to want European courts to enforce the agreement.

"The Prime Minister's ideological insistence that there can be no future role whatsoever for the ECJ or any similar court-like body risks preventing the deal Britain needs".

Opponents of Brexit, see this government position, focused upon the ECJ's direct jurisdiction, as possibly amounting to a "climb-down" on the part of the British government.

Former Labour Cabinet Minister Lord Adonis, supporter of the anti-Brexit group Open Britain, said: "Not much is left of David Davis's so-called "red line" of taking back control from European judges".

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