‘We COULD walk’ EU warned Britain could leave with NO DEAL over ECJ citizens’ rights row
A SENIOR minister has revealed that there is “a very good chance” Britain could walk away from Brexit talks over Brussels’ stubborn refusal to back down over the rule of the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
The leading member of the Government has told the Daily Express that the European Commission’s uncompromising demand that Britain continues to submit to the ECJ over citizen rights, trade, nuclear cooperation and other areas after Brexit “is a very, very big problem indeed”.
The warning came after the European Commission’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier last week said he could “see no other way” for the EU to agree on citizens rights apart from the UK submitting to rulings from the ECJ.
The uncompromising attitude came at the end of the second round of Brexit talks in Brussels.
The minister warned that “if they [the EU] don’t budge on that issue then we will have to walk away”.
With contingency plans being worked up by all government departments, the minister said “there is a very good chance we could walk away” from the talks.
However, the minister said that the only thing that makes a complete breakdown in the negotiations “unlikely” is that “they [the EU] are desperate for a deal” and will have to compromise if they believe Britain is ready to walk away with no deal.
The comments on the ECJ by a senior Government source follow David Davis earlier this week restating that British courts should decide on EU citizens in the UK after Brexit.
On a trip to the Czech Republic he made it clear that there was no room for compromise on the ECJ.
He said: “We are intent that this should be put in an act in of parliament enforced by British courts and most importantly backed up by a treaty.
“When we, for example, sign a deal, let’s say with the United States, we don’t give the United States Supreme Court the right to enforce that.”
The tough line taken by the Government comes amid growing evidence that no deal would hurt the EU far more than the UK.
Leave Means Leave, which represents more than 50 pro-Brexit Tory MPs, has carried out work which has revealed that walking away from talks with no deal is still much better than the status quo of the current EU membership.
A paper written for the organisation by the former director general of the British Chambers of Commerce John Longworth, showed that British GDP would be boosted by £150 billion a year for 12 years with no deal by scrapping EU red tape and ending tariffs with the rest of the world.
The strength of the British government’s hand in being able to walk away with no deal was also highlighted by the thinktank Civitas which showed that Britain would also make at least £8 billion profit from tariffs with the EU under World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules with no deal.
This would be more than enough to compensate companies for the £5 billion tariffs they would have to pay to export into the EU.
Welcoming the Government’s comments, Richard Tice, co-chairman of Leave Means Leave insisted that Theresa May’s pledge to make ending the ECJ’s rule over Britain a red line was essential to ensure Britain gets its independence.
He said: “The Government is right to set out their red lines in the negotiations and ensuring Britain is no longer dictated to by a foreign court must be one of them.
“No deal is much better than a bad deal with the EU.
“If the EU continues to act in such an unreasonable manner, Britain must be prepared to walk away from the negotiating table.
“The sooner we walk away the sooner everyone realizes that we are serious about being a great independent nation, trading under WTO rules, not being an EU pawn.”
The warning shot from the Government to the EU comes as a House of Lords Committee has conceded that Britain could continue with the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) arrangements even without staying in the ECJ.
Since its introduction, the UK has used the European Arrest Warrant to achieve the extradition of 1,000 individuals back to this country, including several high-profile criminals like Hussain Osman, who attempted to carry out a terror attack on the London Underground in 2005.
It had been claimed by Remainers that the legal agreements governing the EAW would be impossible to continue unless Britain submitted to the ECJ.
However, the study by the Lords’ European Union Committee showed that bilateral agreements such as the ones being put in place with Norway and Iceland could be an alternative with a neutral political dispute resolution mechanism.
It said that a transitional period before total Brexit would help put these new arrangements in place.
The committee raised concerns that the agreements with the Scandinavian countries have not yet been put in place but welcomed Home Secretary Amber Rudd’s assurances that continuing the EAW arrangements is “a priority”.
Meanwhile Chancellor Philip Hammond told ITV News that he hopes talks on transition arrangements, including the EAW, can begin in the Autumn.
Asked how quickly a transitional deal could be done to give businesses certainty Mr Hammond said: “The European Union timeline is clear that we have to make sufficient progress on the initial set of issues that David Davis has been discussing in Brussels.
“We hope to have achieved that milestone by September or October, and we then expect to be able to go on to talk about this broader range of issues.”
He went on: “We hope to be able to deliver agreement about an interim arrangement with the EU as early as possible.”
July 27th, 2017: Express