The EU has started the process of taking the UK to court over the Internal Market Bill – and which court? Why their very own European Court of Justice (ECJ), of course.
So, Brussels drops the bombshell that they’re going to upset the delicately balanced Northern Ireland Protocol to try and wrest control over that part of the UK from Westminster.
Then the Eurocrats get all uppity when we decide to maintain that balance by putting in place domestic laws to prevent the European Union from going down such a path.
Now Brussels is claiming that it was the UK that broke the rules. So it’s taking the UK to court over it. And which court does that mean – well we all know the answer, the ECJ of course. There’ll be kangaroos all over the place.
But all those pro-EU anti-UK campaigners out there think this is wonderful – for them anything that does the UK and Brexit down is excellent news.
But I will point out to them that it was the EU negotiators that first floated this idea of using the Protocol to try and force the UK to hand over its fish and remain under ECJ jurisdiction forever.
And, had the UK government thought that what it was presented with was not a credible threat, then the UK government would not have been forced down the route of clauses 41 to 45 in the UK Internal Market Bill.
Remember, the Northern Ireland Protocol is designed only to affect the small number of goods going from Great Britain into Northern Ireland that are ‘at risk’ of going over the Irish border into the Single Market.
But it was Brussels that floated the idea it could impose a blanket of ‘at risk’ status on all goods moving from Great Britain into Northern Ireland. And this is something that would drive a massive wedge between two parts of the UK.
It was also Brussels that suggested it could refuse to give the UK permission to export food into the Single Market, which under the Protocol would prevent Northern Ireland getting food from England, Wales and Scotland.
All unacceptable and all measures that would themselves breach the Belfast Agreement that the Protocol was set up to protect.
What the UK government did with the extra clauses in the UK Internal Market Bill was re-impose the proper balance by limiting the potential for overreaching by the EU.
Perfectly sensible and perfectly legal.
But Brussels is so petrified of losing what little control it thought it had over us, that it is now threatening to take the UK to court for breach of good faith. But it was the EU that committed the real violation of good faith in the first place.
Now, some people are saying that, as we’ve left the EU then we can ignore the ECJ and tell them to do one.
But the small print in the Withdrawal Agreement says otherwise.
The EU has four years after the end of the Brexit Implementation Period to pursue us through its own courts for breaches of the Withdrawal Agreement.
The President of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said:
“We had invited our British friends to remove the problematic parts of their draft Internal Market Bill, by the end of September.
“This draft bill is by its very nature, a breach of the obligation of good faith, laid down in the Withdrawal Agreement. Moreover, if adopted as is, it will be in full contradiction to the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland.”
And she went on to say:
“The deadline lapsed yesterday. The problematic provisions have not been removed. Therefore this morning, the Commission has decided to send a letter of formal notice to the UK Government. This is the first step in an infringement procedure.”
On the UK government side, a spokesperson said:
“We will respond to the letter in due course. We have clearly set out our reasons for introducing the measures related to the Northern Ireland protocol. We need to create a legal safety net to protect the integrity of the UK’s internal market, ensure ministers can always deliver on their obligations to Northern Ireland and protect the gains from the peace process.”
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Brexit: So the EU is taking the UK to court