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Trouble for Theresa May as Tory ex-ministers question vow to quit EU court

Emilio Casalicchio

2 min read

A string of Conservative former ministers have broken cover to criticise Theresa May over her vow to break ties with a key European court after Brexit.

Dominic Grieve - formerly the Government’s top lawyer - alongside ex-culture minister Ed Vaizey and ex-education secretary Nicky Morgan have all spoken out against the Prime Minister’s stance.

In her defining Brexit speech in January Mrs May promised to “bring an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in Britain”.

She said any continued influence from the court over British judges – hated by many Brexit supporters – would in effect be “not leaving the EU at all”.

But since she lost her majority at the general election even a small rebellion among Tory MPs is enough to threaten her position on big ticket issues.

In a piece for the Sunday Telegraph Mr Vaizey and Labour MP Rachel Reeves argue quitting the court and the European Atomic Energy Community – which the ECJ oversees - could have adverse consequences.

“There appears never to have been an ECJ case involving the UK and Euratom. But it does require us to continue to allow the free movement of nuclear scientists,” they wrote.

“For this reason, it appears, the Government has determined the UK should leave. This makes no sense. The UK must remain a beacon for global talent after Brexit – indeed, that is the Government’s stated aim.”

Meanwhile former Attorney General Mr Grieve told the paper: “We have to be realistic. Some of the attitudes to the ECJ seem to be a bit knee jerk. It has a pariah status.

“I’ve never been particularly impressed with it, but the fact is it is there and it’s going to be doing a lot of work that is relevant to us.

“I think we need to continue to keep an open mind on whether the ECJ might in future be a mechanism for resolving disputes in those bodies we are still participating.”

And Ms Morgan said: “I’m in the camp of ‘let’s not be so absolutist about this, not undermine our economy and think of a solution’.

“There may be some merit in just thinking about the detail of our future relationship with the ECJ before we draw a line through the relationship entirely.”

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