David Davis has updated the House of Commons on the latest Brexit negotiations. I report his words and suggest, in italics, what he might actually have meant. Part 1 can be read here.
The European Court
“This week we have also sought to give further clarity on our commitment to incorporate the agreement we reach on Citizens’ Rights into UK law.” We haven’t actually reached any agreement yet but when we do, IF we do, we’ll make sure it’s legal.
“This will ensure that European Union citizens in the UK can directly enforce their rights in UK courts, providing certainty and clarity for the long term.” We actually don’t mind if EU citizens take their case to the law courts, as long as it’s OUR law courts, which are run by OUR laws.
“We have made it clear that, over time, our courts can take account of rulings of the European Court of Justice in this area, to help to ensure consistent interpretation.” Sure, we’ll listen to the ECJ, but we’ll not be bound hand and foot by its rulings.
“However, we remain clear that as we leave the European Union, it is a key priority for the United Kingdom to preserve the sovereignty of our courts and as such in leaving the European Union, we will bring an end to direct jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.” And that lays it on the line; the ECJ will not have a direct input into our legal system.
“Mr Speaker, it is not my intention to preempt the Committee stage of the EU Withdrawal Bill, but what I say next has some relevance for it.
“It is clear that that we need to take further steps to provide clarity and certainty, both in the negotiations and at home, regarding the implementation of any agreement into United Kingdom law.
“I can now confirm that, once we have reached an agreement, we will bring forward a specific piece of primary legislation to implement that agreement. This will be known as the Withdrawal Agreement and Implementation Bill.” Another bill!
“This confirms that the major policies set out in the Withdrawal Agreement will be directly implemented into UK law by primary legislation – not by secondary legislation under the Withdrawal Bill.” We are quite happy to allow Members of Parliament to debate and vote on this bill.
“This also means that Parliament will be given time to debate, scrutinise and vote on the final agreement we strike with the European Union. This agreement will hold only if Parliament approves it.” But if members don’t like it, the whole deal is off.
“We expect this Bill to cover the contents of the Withdrawal Agreement, that includes issues such as, an agreement on citizens’ rights, any financial settlement and the details of an implementation period agreed between both sides.” The new bill will lay it all out before Members, who will then decide whether they like it or not.
“Of course, we do not yet know the exact details of this Bill and are unlikely to do so until the negotiations are near completion.
“I should also tell the House, that this will be over and above the undertaking we have already made that will bring forward a motion on the final deal as soon as possible after the deal is agreed, and that we still intend and expect for such a vote on the final deal to happen before the European Parliament votes on it.” But even if the House of Commons agrees with the deal, the European Parliament may decide it doesn’t like it, in which case the deal will be off.
“There cannot be any doubt that Parliament will be intimately involved at every stage.” Don’t worry, chaps. We’ll keep you in the loop.
“Finally, on the financial settlement. I see laughter on the Opposition Benches, but actually this has been called for by Members on both sides of the House, so I hope that we get Labour party support for it for once.” The Labour side is laughing now. Will they be laughing when this is all finished?
“Finally, on the financial settlement, the Prime Minister’s commitment made in her Florence speech stands.
“Our European Partners will not need to pay more or receive less over the remainder of the current budget plan as a result of our decision to leave.” That’s to 2019 – the point at which we leave the EU. We’ll pay our commitments until then; after that they’re on their own.
“The UK will honour its commitments we have made during the period of our membership, and this week we made substantial technical progress on the issues which underpin these commitments.
“This has been a low-key, but important technical set of negotiations, falling as it has between two European Councils.
“This is now about pinpointing further technical discussions that need to take place, and moving forward into the political discussions and political decisions.” We know exactly what we’re prepared to pay. Now let’s see where the EU is prepared to concede.
“We must now also look ahead to moving our discussions on to our future relationship.” Trade is important to both sides. Let’s talk about it.
“For this to happen, both parties need to build confidence in both the process and indeed in the shared outcome.
“The United Kingdom will continue to engage and negotiate constructively, as we have done since the start, but we need to see flexibility, imagination and willingness to make progress on both sides if these negotiations are to succeed and we are able to realise our new partnership.” Once again I repeat – the UK has made all the running in these negotiations. We have bent over backwards and made lots of concessions in an effort to broker a deal. The EU’s concessions are precisely zero, so we’re working hard on them to change that.
“I commend this statement to the House, Mr Speaker.”
Read the full text here