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26 April 2017

EU clings to British sovereignty

The recent leak of the European Union’s draft negotiating directives revealed their pettiness when it emerged that they are demanding that the UK settle a vindictive “divorce” bill in euros rather than pounds. But the document also sheds light on Brussels’ desire to keep Britain under the yoke of EU law even once we’re out of the crumbling bloc.

Court of Justice

The document says that “the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union (and the supervisory role of the Commission) should be maintained”.

It goes on to insist that “the Agreement should foresee that any reference to concepts or provisions of Union law made in the Agreement must be understood as including the case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Union interpreting such concepts or provisions before the withdrawal date. Moreover, to the extent that an alternative dispute settlement is established for certain provisions of the Agreement, a provision according to which future case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Union intervening after the withdrawal date must be taken into account in interpreting such concepts and provisions should be included.”

The move will be sold as an attempt to protect the rights of EU migrants under EU law, being couched as it is in extended discussions of the problem of “citizens’ rights” that dominates first phase negotiations. But the move will see Britain – the country that established modern, individual liberal rights – continue to sit at the mercy of unelected foreign judges pursuing the political agenda of the European Union.

May’s objection

If she is true to her word, the move will have once incurred the wrath of Prime Minister Theresa May, after she vowed to “bring an end to the jurisdiction of the court in Britain”. It was widely expected that she will reaffirm that principle in the forthcoming Tory election manifesto, putting her in a tough position when she goes to Brussels to win a deal for the UK.

But her stance on foreign interference in British justice and home affairs appears to have softened with news that she plans to scrap a separate pledge to withdraw Britain from the European Convention on Human Rights and thus free Britain from the power of Strasbourg judges in the European Court of Human Rights.

If she’s prepared to surrender Britain to foreign judges from a court that she’s made public stands against in the past – particularly following its efforts to block her deportation of Abu Qatada – who knows how much autonomy she’ll be prepared to give away in pursuit of an extended “transition” deal.

A proud history

The demand could be seen as a power grab, especially given Britain’s superb track record on individual rights. Dating back to Magna Carta, Britain has led the way in protecting the individual from the excesses of state power and has a far better track record than the European legal systems that permitted the rise of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.

With 17.4 million Brits voting to take back control of their country, acquiescing to demands of a failed European project, and doing down our own capacity to protect the rights of British residents in the process, will be seen as a brutal betrayal.