Jacob Rees-Mogg, normally a stalwart defender of Theresa May, has slammed the prime minister’s Florence speech, drawing a red line over the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) during the two-year ‘implementation’ period, and has demanded that Free Movement ends in 2019.
Brexit campaigner and MP tipped to be the future leader of the Conservative Party Rees-Mogg told the BBC’s Newsnight programme on Friday he had “three concerns” about May’s Brexit speech, notably that there would be “considerable dissatisfaction” in the country “if we are not outside the ECJ’s jurisdiction on the date of leaving”.
In her Florence speech, Mrs. May signed the UK up to a two-year transition period on membership terms until 2021, including ongoing supremacy for the ECJ in judgements and a considerable divorce bill.
“[The speech] hasn’t been made clear if during this implementation period we will still be subject to the European Court of Justice,” Mr. Rees-Mogg said.
“In my mind that is an absolute red line. If after March 2019 we have still not left the ECJ, we have not left the European Union and that would be undermining the vote in June 2016.”
After warning about the ECJ, he added: “We can improve the standard of living once we are outside the containment of the European Union. This is very exciting and delaying it is inevitably disappointing,” the MP for North East Somerset added.
If we are still subject to the European Court of Justice we have not left the EU https://t.co/zXnUpMQRLc
— Jacob Rees-Mogg (@Jacob_Rees_Mogg) September 23, 2017
A second concern was Freedom of Movement and the lack of clarity over whether it would end on March 29th, 2019, when the United Kingdom officially leaves the bloc, or 2021, at the end of Mrs. May’s proposed ‘implementation’, or transition, period.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4 on Friday, Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling said that Freedom of Movement would end in March 2019. However May’s speech reads: “During the implementation [transition] period, people will continue to be able to come and live and work in the UK” sounding much like Free Movement, with the UK staying subject to EU rules for another two years, for all intents and purposes.
Rees-Mogg asserted that Free Movement “ought to end at the end of March 2019” and cast doubt on the Home Office’s competence to enact post-Brexit immigration laws “because it hasn’t done very well in dealing with illegal immigrants so far, so the question is whether the Home Office will be ready in time to do the job properly”.
No escape https://t.co/kncO8nN2iv
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 22, 2017
“The other area I am concerned about is that we should be promising money before we know the other side of the deal. They want money, we want trade, and for us to be guaranteeing money, which the speech does practically very early on, concerns me,” he said.
“If you are kind you would say that the prime minister has made a generous offer and put it to the Europeans to respond. If you were unkind, you would say there has been a series of concessions whilst the European Union has not made a single concession,” the MP added.
Macron Rejects May’s Brexit Speech, Demands EU Citizens’ Rights, Divorce Bill Are ‘Clarified’ https://t.co/9eqL9XhzJI
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) September 23, 2017
Responses from European leaders and the supranational bloc have not been concessionary, however, with French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron demanding clarity on the Irish border, EU citizens’ rights, and the divorce bill before the fourth round of negotiations begins Monday.
EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier also demanded “clarity” on the Irish border, and European Parliament Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt said that whilst the “additional clarifications” in May’s speech were welcome, some “important questions remain” over exactly how much the UK will pay the bloc during the transition period and beyond.