The UK government has apparently agreed to let the European Court of Justice (ECJ) be the legal arbiter on issues relating to the £39 billion Brexit divorce settlement bill and the 3.8 million EU citizens residing in Britain.
The result will be that even when Britain has completely left the EU, the bloc’s highest court, based in Luxembourg, will continue to have the final say on future disputes relating to two key aspects of the divorce.
In a draft text of the agreement, it says a joint committee of officials “may, at any point, decide to submit the dispute brought before it to the Court of Justice of the EU for a ruling,” even if resisted by UK-based courts.
It has also been reported that EU judges will also have the final say over a Irish border “backstop” if the trade deal between Britain and Europe leads to frontier checks.
The move is being marked as a significant concession for Prime Minister Theresa May and her Chequers Plan. Former leader of the Conservative Party, Ian Duncan Smith has said that “this would be akin to saying that a UK citizen living in America could have their rights protected by a UK court.”
It fundamentally reverses a previous promise that Mrs May made in her Lancaster House speech last year, where she said that “we will not have truly left the European Union if we are not in control of our own laws.”
However, it appears Mrs May has gradually rowed back on a Full Brexit talks have progressed. For example, European agencies which she wants Britain to continue participating in are policed by the ECJ. Additionally, under her Chequers plan, the ECJ will have the final word on cases relating to EU trading rules which the UK has agreed to follow.
However, the EU is likely to be over-joyed at these concessions as it gives them more power over the UK as it exists the trade bloc.
Brexit talks are set to resume in mid-August and then continue every week leading up to the October European Council summit, a senior EU source has said.
But the UK must now be asking itself whether this is the sort of Brexit, the British people voted for.