The Prime Minister rejected accusations that her Brexit plans will mean the EU’s Court of Justice still being able to influence UK domestic affairs after the formal break in ties to Brussels in 2019.
She came out fighting after anti-Brexit campaigners accused the Government of a “climb down” for failing to rule out the possibility of Strasbourg judges have some future rule in settling dispute between Britain and the EU.
Mrs May said: “What is absolutely clear, when we leave the European Union we will be leaving the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.
“What we will be able to do is to make our own laws.
“Parliament will make our laws. It is British judges who will interpret those laws and it will be the British Supreme Court that will be the arbiter of those laws.
“We will take back control of our laws.”
Mrs May spoke out during a visit to a double-decker bus factory in Guildford, Surrey, to highlight the country’s growing global export opportunities as the departure from the EU approaches.
The row over Brexit intensified yesterday when the Department for Exiting the EU published proposals for a legal framework for Britain’s future relationship with Brussels.
A Whitehall document said: “In leaving the European Union, we will bring about an end to the direct jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union.”
It insisted that any rights or obligations for EU citizens or businesses arising from the withdrawal agreement between the UK and Brussels would be protected by UK law rather than the ECJ.
However, the document went on to suggest that a “new dispute resolution mechanism” would be needed to settle “any disagreements between the UK and the EU on the interpretation or application” of the rules of the new relationship between them.
One possible option could be “joint committees” made up of representatives from the UK and the EU to try to resolve any issues.
Ministers are understood not to have ruled out the possibility ECJ judges being invited to sit on such committees.
The document pointed out that other arbitration bodies had been set up around the world to resolve disputes arising from trade agreements between nations and other economic blocs.
Officials are also understood to expect that the ECJ could continue to play a role in during any “transition period” lasting several year to allow businesses time to adjust to new arrangements after Brexit.
Tory Brexit minister Dominic Raab yesterday said Britain will have to keep “half an eye” on ECJ rulings even after the country has left the jurisdiction of the Luxembourg-based court.
But he insisted it was “absolutely” wrong to suggest the UK would still be forced to accept rulings from foreign judges after Brexit.
“Our commitment as a Government since the referendum has been crystal clear – we’re ending the jurisdiction of the European Court over disputes between the EU and the UK, that’s not on the table,” Mr Raab told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“But look, let’s also be clear about it – when we leave the EU we are taking back control over our laws.
“There will be divergence between the case law of the EU and the UK, and it is precisely because there will be that divergence as we take back control that it makes sense for the UK to keep half an eye on the case law of the EU, and for the EU to keep half an eye on the case law of the UK.”
Former Remain campaigners claimed the Government had retreated from promises to end the influence of EU judges over UK law.
Labour peer Lord Adonis, a leading supporter of the pro-Brussels pressure group Open Britain, said: “This is a climbdown camouflaged in jingoistic rhetoric.
“Even if we leave the single market, European judges will still have considerable power over decisions made in the UK.
“It would make far more sense for the Government to negotiate continued membership of the customs union and single market. Otherwise, we get the worst of all worlds – a worse deal on trade and jobs than now, yet no extra control over anything for real.”
And Lib Dem Brexit spokesman Tom Brake said: “The Government has produced a position paper without a clear position.
“No-one reading this paper will have a clue what they actually want.
“It’s a desperate attempt to hold together a divided Conservative Party and prevent a rebellion amongst Eurosceptic backbenchers.
“Despite Theresa May’s tub-thumping rhetoric, it’s clear that protecting British trade, security and families will mean accepting a role for the European Court.”
Anti-Brussels campaigners welcomed the Government’s proposals for cutting ties with the ECJ yesterday.
Richard Tice, co-chairman of the pressure group Leave Means Leave, said: “We welcome the Government’s overall commitment to ensure that Britain is no longer under the direct jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.
“It is vital that the ECJ no longer plays a part in the British judicial system.
“Some additional clarity is needed on international trade dispute resolution.
“A sensible solution would be for an independent arbitration panel to be able to ask the ECJ to provide non-binding guidance only.
“The crucial point is that the panel is responsible for the final judgment; this is quite normal around the world.
“Leaving the EU means leaving the ECJ – remaining subject to it in anyway would be completely absurd.”
August 23rd, 2017: Express