European court of justice

The small print of today’s Article 50 opinion reveals yet another ECJ power grab

The European Court of Justice is back in the headlines this morning. Its Advocate General, Manuel Campos Sanchez-Bordona, has declared that the UK might be able to cancel Brexit by revoking Article 50 unilaterally. So is that it settled? Not at all: nothing, with the ECJ, is ever that simple. In fact, the whole episode is a good chance to look at the ECJ and the way it works – and then ask if this is the kind of supreme court that Britain really wants to stay under. Take what happened this morning. We learn via a three-page press release what Sanchez-Bordona thinks about Article 50. An hour after that

Can the UK cancel Brexit? We’re about to find out

While it might have garnered less attention than the political drama around the withdrawal agreement, next week’s European Court of Justice decision on whether the UK can unilaterally revoke Article 50 – that is, cancel Brexit – could have serious ramifications. A bit of background on the case: in November 2017, a group of Scottish MPs, MEPs and MSPs – working with the anti-Brexit barrister Jolyon Maugham QC – asked the Scottish Advocate General to clarify whether the UK government had the right to revoke Article 50 if it wanted to. Ignoring the objections of the government – which insisted that, since Brexit was going ahead, there was no need

Charles Moore

The Spectator’s Notes | 24 November 2016

It is not self-evidently ridiculous that Nigel Farage should be the next British ambassador to the United States. The wishes of the president-elect should not automatically be discounted. John F. Kennedy’s wish that his friend David Ormsby-Gore (Lord Harlech) should be ambassador was granted. It is also not true that the post must be filled by a professional, or that the Prime Minister should not appoint a political rival to the post. Churchill gave the job to his main rival, Lord Halifax, from 1940. Certainly Mr Farage is not the conventional idea of a diplomat, but then Mr Trump is not the conventional idea of a president. Although its own

What the papers say: Theresa May shows she is for turning

In any deal, says the Sun, ‘no party should agree to the rules being set by the other side’. So the Prime Minister is ‘reassuringly spot on’ to insist we cut ‘direct ties with the European Court of Justice’. Whatever some might say, ‘make no mistake..’ the ECJ is no independent institution’, argues the paper – and instead, the court has been the ‘hothouse’ for the ‘ever-growing superstate’ of the European Union. Theresa May’s decision to turn Britain away from the court should be welcomed; and the terms the government put forward in its position paper, which it published yesterday, ‘strikes a decent balance’. Now, we can be grateful that ‘any

The government is right to turn its back on the European Court of Justice

A key question in the Brexit talks is how any deal between the EU and UK will be upheld. The government has begun to address this today, publishing a paper on enforcement and dispute resolution. One thing is clear: ministers are committed to extricating the UK from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ). In fact, the main point of the paper could be summed up as spelling out why Britain cannot agree to the ECJ being the arbiter of any Brexit deal. The government is entirely right about this. Sovereign states do not and should not enter into agreements in which the meaning and effect of the

Tom Goodenough

Is Theresa May preparing to cross her Brexit ‘red line’?

Theresa May could not have been any clearer: the UK is leaving the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice after Brexit. Here’s what she told the Tory party conference back in October: ‘Let’s state one thing loud and clear: we are not leaving the European Union only to give up control of immigration all over again. And we are not leaving only to return to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. That’s not going to happen.’ And for those who didn’t get the memo, here she was in January: “So we will take back control of our laws and bring an end to the jurisdiction of the

What the papers say: It’s time for some Brexit clarity

Ruth Davidson has called into question the government’s pledge to bring net migration down to the ‘tens of thousands’. The Sun welcomes her comments and says that it is ‘good to hear a senior Tory…talk sense on immigration’. The migration target, according to the paper, is a ‘random, nonsense figure’ and achieving it would probably entail doing damage to the economy. It’s vital, of course, that immigration does come down, given that ‘some communities’ are struggling to cope with the influx of people. This shouldn’t mean doing damage to Britain’s businesses though, and the paper says it is high time for a ‘serious debate’ about the right level. But for

Theresa May is heading for trouble over the Brexit ‘divorce’ bill

ICM, who Vote Leave used for their own referendum polling, have some striking numbers on what elements of an EU exit deal British voters would find acceptable. 54 per cent of voters regard maintaining free movement as part of a transition deal – something that Theresa May wouldn’t rule out in her interview with Andrew Neil – as acceptable. However, there is clearly going to be a big problem with any exit payment. 64 per cent regard a £10 billion payment as unacceptable, with that figure rising to 70 per cent for a £20 billion payment—which is at the low end of what people in Brussels think Britain ought to

Brexit strategy

For months, now, a hunt has been on for the government’s Brexit strategy. Theresa May has quite rightly refused to disclose it. She knows that the European Union needs to be seen to make Britain suffer. She will have to ask for for a lot, only to back down so the EU can have its pound of British flesh. The hope is that she can then emerge with what she wanted all along. So a game of bluff is under way. This has created a rather unsatisfactory situation where Parliament wants to know where she will draw the line, and she refuses to say. Her every word is scoured for

Brexit means sovereignty

We know what people voted against,’ say half-clever ­pundits, ‘but it’s far from clear what they voted for.’ Actually, it’s very clear: the ­British voted to leave the EU and take back control of their own laws. They didn’t ­dictate precisely what kind of deal we should have with our neighbours after leaving: that is for ministers to negotiate. But when Leave campaigners invited people to ‘take back ­control’, voters understood what that meant: legal supremacy should return from Brussels to Westminster. Remainers spent the campaign trying to suggest that the EU was just one among several international associations in which Britain participated. It was, they wanted us to believe,

Reasons to be cheerful | 30 June 2016

Noel Malcolm It may sound both Pollyannaish and paradoxical to say this, but leaving the EU will enable us to have stable, friendly, cooperative relations with all our EU neighbours. Being cooped up in a dysfunctional system, where so much depends on backroom arm-twisting and competing for favours in a zero-sum game, doesn’t produce stable friendships. For those of us who feel (as I do) like real Europeans, it will be so much better to be the friendly next-door neighbour than the unwanted in-law in the quarrelling family home. Noel Malcolm is a Senior Research Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. Tony Abbott I was one of those overseas worthies

‘Remain’ dodges a hammer blow from the European Court of Justice

‘Remain’ might be trailing in the polls, but the campaign can at least be grateful they haven’t been dealt another hammer blow by the European Court of Justice today. The European Commission had tried to claim that the UK Government was wrong to check whether those getting child benefits were allowed to live in the country before paying out. But thankfully for ‘Remain’, the ECJ ruled that it was legal to hold back money for unemployed EU migrants who were not allowed to be here. The good news for ‘Remain’ is that the decision didn’t go the other way. Given how momentum has increasingly shifted towards ‘Leave’, particularly after yesterday

Don’t rule out a second referendum

As the Queen read out her government’s agenda on Wednesday morning, David Cameron could have been forgiven for thinking about his place in history. What will he be remembered for, other than having held the office? The so-called ‘life chances’ strategy is intended to be a central plank of his legacy. He wants to be able to say that he made Britain more ‘socially just’. Indeed, this is his principal reason for wanting to stay in No. 10 for a few more years. Cameron loyalists hope he’ll be remembered as the leader who made the Tories the natural party of government again. The man who moved them on from Thatcherism

Has Boris Johnson’s defection to ‘Out’ scuppered the sovereignty bill?

Back in the days when Boris Johnson was still deciding which way to go on the EU, Number 10 were very keen on a sovereignty bill. This Bill was meant to limit the powers of the European Court of Justice and assure voters that Parliament was supreme. But it was also meant to reassure Boris, he was particularly worried about the influence of the ECJ, and get him on the side. The plan was that this proposed bill would be unveiled in parliament once Cameron came back from Brussels with his deal. But since Boris came out for Out, we have seen head nor hide of this bill. The Sun

The Spectator’s notes | 10 March 2016

Surely there is a difference between Mark Carney’s intervention in the Scottish referendum last year and in the EU one now. In the first, everyone wanted to know whether an independent Scotland could, as Alex Salmond asserted, keep the pound and even gain partial control over it. The best person to answer this question was the Governor of the Bank of England. So he answered it, and the answer — though somewhat more obliquely expressed — was no. For the vote on 23 June, there is nothing that Mr Carney can tell us which we definitely need to know and which only he can say. So when he spoke to

Does Cameron benefit from ECJ ruling?

Yesterday’s ‘excellent‘ ruling from the European Court of Justice on benefits immediately seemed a jolly good thing for David Cameron and allowed him to move on the Commons shambles on the European Arrest Warrant. But is it a good thing for his renegotiation plan? The Guardian reports the head of the European People’s Party in the European parliament saying that this judgement means the UK does not need to contest freedom of movement ‘because it highlights that member states have many options and legal tools at their disposal to make sure their social system is not abused’. This would make sense if David Cameron just wants to reform freedom of

Why Britain should scrap the Human Rights Act

Will the scrapping of the Human Rights Act make Britain a pariah in Europe? When the Human Rights Act was passed in 1998, it was presented as a moment of great liberal modernization that was to take Britain closer to liberal democracies on the continent. Yet, the European experience was quite different. In Germany, France, Spain or Italy, if you bring a human rights case, you do so mainly by reference to the distinctive bill of rights contained in each of those countries’ constitutions. The Norwegians, who also reviewed their human rights legislation recently, were clear on one thing: their Supreme Court had to continue to decide human rights cases

George Osborne: Britain is better off in a reformed EU

George Osborne’s speech to the Open Europe conference this morning was billed as the Chancellor taking a tough guy stance with European leaders, demanding that they reform or see their project crumble. It sounded, from the overnight briefings, as though Osborne was trying to cheer up his backbenchers during their current round of banging on about Europe as much as he was trying to make the case for European reform. But when he delivered the full address, it had as much pro-European thinking in it as it did threats. Osborne was focusing on making the case for the whole of Europe to reform, for Europe to create better conditions for