Boris May Give British Courts Powers to Overrule EU Judges

QUEDGELEY, GLOUCESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 09: British Prime Minister and Conservative leader Boris Johnson speaks at a general election campaign rally on December 9, 2019 in Quedgeley, near Gloucester, England. The U.K will go to the polls in a general election on December 12. (Photo by Ben Stansall - WPA …
Ben Stansall - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is to give more British courts the power to challenge and overturn decisions by European Union judges.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) is the EU’s supreme court and rules on matters related to the EU’s legislation and ensures that those laws are applied across the bloc. It is part of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and covers areas including employment and environmental laws, taxation, trade, fisheries, and agriculture.

Enshrined in the 2018 withdrawal bill, former Prime Minister Theresa May controversially agreed to transfer all EU law into British law on the day the United Kingdom leaves the EU. The decision meant that only the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom and the High Court of Justiciary in Scotland would be on the same legal footing as the EU’s court.

The Supreme Court has already been criticised as a bastion of Remain lawmakers after it sided with anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller in her case against the government by declaring prorogation — temporary suspension of a parliament — unlawful, and sending the then-Europhile dominated House of Commons back to work.

The new clause to give lower courts equal power to challenge EU court rulings is expected to be appended to the Withdrawal Agreement Bill on Friday, along with an amendment to outlaw further delays to Brexit.

A Downing Street spokesman confirmed the plans to POLITICO, saying: “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, which will ensure that we do not face a legal bottleneck and inadvertently stay bound by EU rulings for many years.”

“We will take back control of our laws and disentangle ourselves from the EU legal order, just as it was promised to the British people,” he continued, adding that changes to EU-origin directives “will be matters for British courts, as was promised to the British people”.

The peer Lord Pannick QC, who acted for Ms Miller in both of her successful Supreme Court challenges against the Government, said in comments reported by The Times: “To allow courts other than the Supreme Court to depart from the decisions of the Court of Justice of the EU in relation to transposed EU law would cause very considerable legal uncertainty.”

The European Court of Justice has come under criticism for its highly-politicised decision-making. In 2018, it ruled that expenses of Members of the European Parliament could be kept secret from the taxpayers who fund them — supposedly in order to preserve MEPs’ “integrity” and “privacy” — blocking attempts for further transparency and accountability in the EU government.

The court also made the landmark decision that same year to order countries to recognise same-sex marriages of foreign residents if at least one of the partners is an EU citizen, even if the member-state maintains traditional marriage laws — effectively overriding countries’ sovereignty and forcing acceptance of gay marriage across the bloc.

Last month, the EU court also exposed its anti-Israel bias by ruling that products made in Israeli settlements in the West Bank must not be labelled “Made in Israel” but rather labelled according to their “occupied” territory.

Felix Klein, Germany’s Federal Government Commissioner for Jewish Life, said of the ruling at the time: “The verdict is a classic case of a double standard. Israel is treated differently than other nations. In any case, I am not aware of any EU efforts to label products from other disputed areas, such as Crimea or Western Sahara. Here, politics is conducted under the guise of consumer protection law.”

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