Boris Johnson to hand judges new powers to overturn EU laws after Brexit

Posted On: 
18th December 2019

The Government is set to hand new powers to British judges in lower courts to overturn rulings by the European Court of Justice after Brexit.

British judges will have powers to overturn rulings by the European Court of Justice after Brexit
Credit: 
PA Images

It will allow the UK to “disentangle ourselves from the EU's legal order”, according to the Downing Street.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson confirmed there will be a clause in the Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) to that effect after it was reported by The Times on Wednesday morning.

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It comes after Theresa May’s government agreed to transfer all existing European Union case law into British law after Brexit.

This meant only the highest courts in the UK could rule on moving away from EU decisions.

But Boris Johnson argued during the election we should “take back control of our laws”, and his spokesman said this would begin with the Withdrawal Act, due to be voted on again this Friday.

He said: “The bill will ensure that the Supreme Court is not the only institution able to consider retaining European Court of Justice rulings.

"This is an important change that will ensure we do not face a legal bottleneck and inadvertently stay bound by EU rulings for many years."

The PM’s spokesperson added: "We will take back control of our laws, and disentangle ourselves from the EU's legal order, just as was promised to the British people."

The move could have an impact on workers rights and consumer law, and comes after Mr Johnson said he would enshrine his promise not to water them down in law.

The Prime Minister had initially included the proposed changes in the WAB as he tried to secure Labour MPs' backing before the General Election.

Downing Street hinted on Monday when it returned to the Commons it will be stripped of those pledges - triggering an angry backlash from opposition parties

But a spokesman for the PM insisted the promises on workers' rights will be contained in a new employment bill.

He said: "The Prime Minister was clear that he is determined to make the UK the best place in the world to work. 

"The manifesto on which he won a majority made clear that that would be done in parallel to the Withdrawal Agreement and the issue will be dealt with in its own legislation. 

"Once Brexit is done, we will continue to lead the way and set a high standard, building on existing employment law with measures which protect those in low paid work.

“This is on top of the largest upgrade to workers' rights in a generation that the Government is bringing forward."