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European judges will continue to have influence on Britain after Brexit as it will keep “half an eye” on their rulings, a minister admitted today.
However, justice minister Dominic Raab said the UK would no longer be under the “jurisdiction” of the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
He proposed that in future an arbitration panel could decide major disputes between the EU and Britain with other issues being resolved by a group of scientific experts or diplomats. “There will be no jurisdiction of the European Court any more than the UK Supreme Court over disputes between the UK and the EU,” he told BBC radio.
“But as a voluntary matter of practice, totally within our control, of course the UK will keep half an eye on what the EU does, just as the EU will do, keep half an eye on what the UK does.
The reason you would do that is not so that one side can have the trump card over the other, it’s just to make sure that any creases in the relationship can be managed sensibly and intelligently over time.”
Brexit Secretary David Davis was today publishing a position paper outlining a series of options on future dispute resolution mechanisms and the Luxembourg-based ECJ.
It was seen as a softening of Theresa May’s previous stance on the ECJ, partly as the paper stresses ending the “direct jurisdiction” — rather than just jurisdiction — of the court over the UK.
Britain’s preferred solution would still need to be approved by the EU and former attorney general and Remain campaigner Dominic Grieve said the ECJ would “continue in many areas to have a very profound influence” in the UK.
“But of course the difference is going to be that we will no longer have any direct influence into the formation of that EU jurisprudence because we ourselves will no longer be appearing in front of the ECJ as an EU member,” he added.
Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage’s initial response to today’s proposals was: “As with everything else with Brexit, we get offered a full pint and we finish up with a half.”
However, Tory Leavers were more positive, with Bernard Jenkin MP saying: “Govt’s policy is fine!” while Peter Bone MP added: “I see nothing that is persuading me that the Government is moving away from its fundamental principles.”
Under the proposals outlined by Mr Raab, the UK and the EU would each appoint a person to an arbitration panel, and would also agree on a third person to sit on it.
Its rulings would be expected to be followed by both parties and the principles governing it based on the Brexit agreement.
A group of experts could decide matters of scientific or sectoral business differences, while a panel of diplomats could be tasked with solving other disputes.
Ministers are not favouring adopting the European Free Trade Association court, which resolves disputes between Lichtenstein, Iceland, Norway and the EU and interprets ECJ rulings. Nor, are they swayed to back a system used in the case of Moldova, as the ECJ would continue to wield too much influence.
Meanwhile, a former anti-terror legislation watchdog questioned why a report warning of the security risks posed by Brexit was reportedly not published by the Home Office ahead of the June 23 referendum vote last year.
David Anderson QC said: “I’m not sure in what universe it made sense to withhold this powerful and accurate contribution to the referendum debate.”
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