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  1. ITV Report

We will make our own laws when we leave the EU, PM says

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Emily Morgan

British judges will make British laws once the country leaves the European Union, Theresa May has said, but critics argue the government is rowing back on its stance regarding the UK's relationship with the European Court of Justice after Brexit.

The prime minister's comments came alongside the government's latest Brexit position paper, which lays out proposals for Britain's future relationship with the ECJ.

Mrs May said: "When we leave the European Union we will be leaving the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the United Kingdom. We will be making our laws ... and it will be the British Supreme Court which will be the ultimate arbiter of those laws."

The government's new paper, published by the Department for Exiting the European Union, says it will not be "necessary or appropriate" for the ECJ to have "direct jurisdiction" over Britain once it becomes a non-member state.

It sets out a range of alternative models for dealing with legal disputes, and say that Britain is in a "position of strength" to forge new arrangements with the remaining 27-nation bloc suited to its own circumstances.

But critics argue that suggests the UK could still find itself implementing rulings by European judges in some form.

The position paper comes ahead of a third round of Brexit talks next week. Credit: PA

Justice minister Dominic Raab speaking on the BBC Radio 4's Today programme, conceded that Britain will have to keep "half an eye" on ECJ rulings.

Legal experts meanwhile have warned Britain could end up in a position where it is likely to have to follow ECJ rulings if it wants to remain closely linked to the single market and customs union - despite the fact leaving the ECJ is a key goal of many Brexiteers.

Britain's relationship with the ECJ - which is in charge of ensuring member states abide by EU law and plays a key role in settling disputes between members and EU institutions - has been a topic of keen debate throughout early negotiations.

The position paper outlines some of Britain's plans in relation to the European Court of Justice post-Brexit Credit: AP

Since Britain's departure from the EU was announced the European Commission has insisted the Luxembourg-based court should continue to oversee the rights of EU citizens living in Britain after Brexit but Brexiteers have called for a more defined break from the court.

But the government's new position paper, which comes ahead of the third round of formal Brexit talks in Brussels next week, is already being seen by some as a more watered down position from the government.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said it was "sensible and long overdue climbdown", adding "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 co-operation with Europe".

Britain's Supreme Court will be the 'ultimate arbiter', the government says Credit: PA

Labour MP Chuka Umunna, a leading supporter of the Open Britain campaign against a hard Brexit, said: "Despite what Leave campaigners claimed, ministers seem to be hinting that total judicial sovereignty is impossible.

"It appears that the government realises that European judges will have some say over what happens in Britain, whether we are in the single market or not."

Labour's shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said the move appeared to contradict earlier claims by Mrs May.

"This appears to contradict the red line laid out in the Prime Minister's Lancaster House speech and the government's white paper, which stated there could be no future role of the ECJ and that all laws will be interpreted by judges in this country." he said.

The position paper will insist that it is "normal" for the EU to strike agreements with third countries without the ECJ having direct jurisdiction over enforcement and dispute resolution and that there is "no precedent" requiring this in the case of a future UK-EU agreement.