Tuesday, 20 Oct 2020

‘Sheer madness!’ Brexiteer lawyer issues dire ECJ warning – ‘Will always rule against us’

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Martin Howe QC, chairman of Lawyers for Britain, said it was “sheer madness” to allocate the ECJ a role – and suggested up to now there had been a “complete lack of understanding across the entire political world”. He was speaking as the row over Mr Johnson’s Internal Market Bill rumbled on, with Mr Johnson insisting the legislation, which would override some aspects of the Northern Ireland Protocol, was necessary to protect the integrity of the United Kingdom.

Mr Howe was the only non-MP in the so-called “Star Chamber” charged with scrutinising Theresa May’s Brexit deal – and specifically the backstop plan for Northern Ireland – last year.

Despite then-Prime Minister Theresa May’s insistence to the contrary, the group concluded the proposals could not be ended without the agreement of the EU, with any disputes certain the end up in the ECJ.

The NI Protocol did away with the backstop but under the current arrangements, the ECJ would retain a central role in disputes over goods being imported from Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) to Northern Ireland.

Mr Howe told Express.co.uk: “The whole Northern Ireland protocol is under the direct jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, as if we were still a member state.

“But the difference is we have got no judge in the court, and the court owes its loyalty to the EU and has no interest in us as an ex-member.

“You can see them on any issue where supposing we say these steps are not reasonably needed to protect the EU’s single market, they are going to rule against us.

“Allowing the European Court of Justice to be the sole arbiter with this I think is sheer madness.

“I am absolutely staggered – there seems to be a complete lack of understanding across the entire political world.

“This country has never, never entered into a treaty where we allow courts from the other treaty party to bind them – it’s just not done.

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Mr Howe warned: “With their sacred single market, if there is a 0.1 percent chance of a produce travelling across the border, or getting on an aircraft at Belfast into Germany they will so that has to be stopped, you’ve got to take precautions, you’ve got to have quarantine as they cross the Irish Sea.

“These problems will get worse and worse over time.”

The ECJ – officially known as the Court of Justice of the European Union – is based in Luxembourg, having been established in 1952.

The EU’s website says: “The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) interprets EU law to make sure it is applied in the same way in all EU countries, and settles legal disputes between national governments and EU institutions.

“It can also, in certain circumstances, be used by individuals, companies or organisations to take action against an EU institution, if they feel it has somehow infringed their rights.”

However, it has faced frequent criticisms rooted in the fact that it is an entirely eurocentric body, and therefore under no duty to be impartial when it comes to Brexit.

Writing in 2017 for the Policy Exchange think tank, German MEP Gunnar Beck, an expert in EU law who has taught at London’s School of Oriental and Asian Studies (SOAS) since 2005, said: “It is almost totally unprecedented for a State which is a party to an international treaty to accept the jurisdiction of a court of the opposite party in adjudicating treaty provisions.

“Apart from the EU Treaties and the EEA agreement, one would have to go back to the treaties between various European powers and China in the 19th century, under which European citizens were subject to the jurisdiction of extra-territorial courts instead of Chinese jurisdiction.

“China rightly now condemns these arrangements as ‘unequal treaties’ imposed on them by gunboats.”

He added: “The ECJ was established at the same time as the EU (then the European Economic Community) to settle disputes between the EU’s institutions and its member states and to provide authoritative guidance on the interpretation of the EU Treaties and EU legislation.

“It has never discharged that function impartially.”

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