The BBC’s chief political correspondent has cast doubt over Boris Johnson’s pledge on the role of the European Union‘s ECJ in post-Brexit Britain. Government ministers have been briefing that Britain will be able to operate freely from the rulings of the European Court, but the Brexitcast host has highlighted text within the Government’s new planned Brexit legislation which signpost away from the court to maintain a role in the UK going forward.
Mr Fleming told Brexitcast: “If you read the explanatory notes, it says it would make provision for a UK court to seek a view from the European Court of Justice on a question of interpretation of EU law, which would then be fed back into the UK court process.
“So when you hear briefings saying there’ll be no role for the ECG whatsoever, it’s actually that’s not quite strictly true.
“They’re proposing a much less of a role, but one that’s still there.
“That’s why I mean, there’s lots of examples of things that could be the basis of discussion rather than the end of the discussion.”
It comes after the Government set out its plans to override post-Brexit arrangements governing Northern Ireland.
The European Commission responded to the publication on Monday of the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill with an announcement that it intends to re-open legal action against the UK which has been on hold since September.
Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic hinted at further measures saying the unliteral action by the UK had undermined the trust needed for the effective operation of its post-Brexit trade deal with Brussels.
He said Northern Ireland firms that enjoy access to the EU single market under the terms of the protocol could now see that put at risk.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted the Bill contained only minor, bureaucratic changes, while Downing Street said it was an “insurance mechanism” in case a negotiated agreement with the EU could not be found.
Mr Johnson signed the protocol as part of the UK’s Brexit divorce settlement with the EU, with the measures aimed at preventing a hard border on the island of Ireland.
But by imposing checks on goods crossing the Irish Sea from Great Britain, it has fuelled unionist anger in Northern Ireland and is also opposed by Eurosceptics in the Tory Party.
The Bill will enable ministers to establish a “green lane” so trusted traders are allowed to move goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland without checks, as long as the products remain within the UK.
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Products being placed on the market in Northern Ireland would be allowed to follow either UK or EU regulations, rather than having to comply with Brussels’ rules.
The legislation would also remove the European Court of Justice as a final arbiter in trade disputes over the protocol, with the function instead handed to independent adjudicators.
Downing Street has insisted the Bill was compatible with international law under the “doctrine of necessity” which allows obligations in treaties to be set aside under “certain, very exceptional, limited conditions”.
The Government faces significant opposition to its plans in the House of Lords and it is likely to be some months before the legislation becomes law.