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Theresa May faces backlash over EU court role in Brexit transition

Liz Bates

3 min read

Theresa May is facing a backlash from eurosceptic Tory MPs after she revealed that European Court of Justice rulings will still apply in Britain during a two year Brexit transition period.  

Prominent Conservatives sought “clarification” from No 10 last night, after the Prime Minister said the ECJ would still "govern the rules we are part of" for “around two years” after the UK exits the EU in March 2019.

Speaking in the Commons yesterday, Mrs May also suggested that the UK may have to take on new EU laws and regulations during the transition period, although she added that it was "highly unlikely".

But while Eurosceptic MPs railed against the remarks, she received backing from her Cabinet, including from Boris Johnson, who praised her “great statement”. 

Tory backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg deemed it “unacceptable” for the ECJ to have any role in British affairs after the UK left the bloc.

He said: "It has always seemed to me absolutely essential that when we leave the EU we leave the jurisdiction of the ECJ. Any suggestion that we are still under that jurisdiction means we haven't left the European Union. I am concerned."

Conservative MP Bernard Jenkin echoed his colleague’s concerns, telling The Telegraph: "Most MPs represent Leave constituencies, and they may find it hard to explain why we are not taking back control of our laws on day one."

Veteran Brexit campaigner Sir Bill Cash called for “clarification” from No 10 over whether EU treaties would "cease to take effect" after the UK had exited the bloc.


Support from the Foreign Secretary came despite her comments appearing to cross one of the four Brexit red lines he set out in the run up to the Conservative party conference last week.

Mr Johnson said in a statement: "Yes we will have a transition period but as she rightly says the chances of new EU regulations in that period are very small.

"And yes we will mostly have to operate under existing rules during the transition but we will be able to negotiate proper free trade deals and business will be able to prepare properly for Brexit.

"What matters is the end state and our freedom to do things differently and better - and once again the PM sets out a powerful vision: out of customs union, out of single market, taking back full control.

"She has reaffirmed the destination of a self-governing, free-trading, buccaneering and Global Britain taking back control over our laws, money, and borders.The future is bright. Let’s keep calm and carry on leaving the EU."

Another prominent Brexiteer, Michael Gove, also gave his backing to the Prime Minister’s stance, urging his colleagues to be "pragmatic" about the transition period and focus on the "end state" of Brexit process.

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