Tory Brexiters set new red lines over ECJ and free movement

Ex-ministers’ intervention reduces Theresa May’s chances of getting a deal acceptable to the whole of her party

Senior Conservative Brexiters have set new red lines for Theresa May in negotiations with the EU, significantly reducing her chances of getting a deal acceptable to the whole of her party.

The former cabinet ministers Iain Duncan Smith, Owen Paterson, Nigel Lawson and John Redwood have said it would be unacceptable for the European court of justice to have any jurisdiction over the UK during the planned two-year transition after Brexit.

Duncan Smith set out his objections in an article in the Sunday Telegraph in which he also said he particularly opposed a plan for the ECJ to have an ongoing role, beyond the transition, adjudicating on the rights of EU nationals in the UK.

Paterson, Lawson and Redwood, along with more than 30 other Brexiters, have signed a letter coordinated by the group Leave Means Leave listing seven conditions they say should apply before the UK makes any divorce payment to the EU.

On Monday, May will meet Jean-Claude Juncker, the European commission president, in Brussels to firm up what the UK is offering on money, EU citizens’ rights and the Irish border issue in return for agreement at a summit this month to open talks on a future trade deal.

Tory MPs have broadly accepted May’s decision to offer the EU a “Brexit bill settlement” in which the UK would pay in excess of £40bn, but now the role of the ECJ has become a flashpoint with the potential to scupper a deal.

In his Telegraph article, Duncan Smith wrote: “During the implementation phase, the idea that the UK, once it had repealed the 1972 European Communities Act putting it outside the EU, should calmly submit itself to the rulings of the ECJwould be unworkable.”

The Leave Means Leave letter sets out as one of its seven red lines that the ECJ should “cease to have any jurisdiction whatsoever over the UK from 30 March 2019”.