The European Court of Justice should not have “direct jurisdiction” in Britain after Brexit, the government said Tuesday, in what opponents labelled a “climb down” from calls to sever ties completely.
The European Union has insisted that the bloc’s top court should continue to have jurisdiction, for example to protect the rights of European citizens living in Britain.
But the British government has resisted and will on Wednesday outline fuller proposals ahead of the third round of UK-EU negotiations in Brussels next week.
“It is not necessary or appropriate for the CJEU (Court of Justice of the European Union) to have direct jurisdiction over a non-member state… Such an arrangement would be unprecedented,” the Brexit ministry said, ahead of the full document being published.
Britain said there were “existing ways of resolving disputes in international agreements, without the CJEU having direct jurisdiction”.
The Brexit department’s focus on “direct jurisdiction” has led opposition parties to suggest the government is softening its stance and could put forward proposals allowing the EU court to have some future influence in UK courts.
Pro-EU opposition Labour MP Chuka Umunna said the “sudden shifting of the goalposts to ending only the ‘direct’ jurisdiction of the ECJ suggests they are paving the way for some sort of climbdown.”
Vince Cable, leader of the pro-EU Liberal Democrats, a minor opposition party, said the proposals were a “sensible and long overdue climbdown”.
“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,” he said in a statement.
Ending jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in Britain was a key rallying cry of Brexiteers ahead of last year’s referendum on EU membership, along with calls to cut migration to the country.
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