Downing Street slaps down minister over post-Brexit European court role

Posted On: 
22nd November 2017

The Government last night confirmed the European Court of Justice’s oversight of EU citizens in the UK would end – despite Brandon Lewis’ claim that the issue was still up for negotiation.

Brandon Lewis Brandon Lewis said ECJ rules were "still up for negotiation"
PA Images

The immigration minister's claim came despite Theresa May having previously insisted that ending the European Court of Justice’s influence over the UK was among her Brexit red lines.

When asked four times whether ministers had ruled out continued ECJ jurisdiction, he told MPs on the Home Affairs Committee: “As tempting as it is to go further I’m afraid I am going to repeat again that is a matter for negotiations and that part of negotiations hasn’t concluded yet.”

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The probe followed reports that ministers in the cabinet Brexit sub-committee had backed the court playing a role in guaranteeing the rights of over three million EU citizens living in Britain after Brexit.

When later asked about the issue, the Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "I'd make the distinction between the implementation period and post-Brexit.

"We've said in relation to an implementation period that you could expect the system to be broadly similar as it is today, but when it comes to post-Brexit, we've been clear that the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice will end."

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Ed Davey said: “Brandon Lewis’ flustered response today shows the Government’s supposed red-line on ECJ jurisdiction is being watered down.

"The Government should not be ashamed in rowing back on what was a ridiculous assertion from the Prime Minister in the first place.”

Elsewhere Mr Lewis said he hoped a Government draft of its post-Brexit immigration system would be unveiled before Christmas.

And he said ministers hoped to have a new system to allow EU citizens to apply for settled status by the end of next year.

He said he wanted to make the process as easy as “renewing your driving licence” – with each EU national finding out in just two weeks if their application is successful.