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The European Court of Justice will play “no future role” in interpreting the UK’s laws once the country has left the EU, Brexit secretary David Davis has said today.
Addressing MPs as the government unveils its white paper on the Great Repeal Bill, Mr Davis said the UK will seek to ensure “maximum legal certainty” on the day of its departure in two years’ time.
The Great Repeal Bill will enact all existing EU law onto the UK’s statute book when Britain leaves the bloc in April 2019. It will require up to 1,000 statutory instruments and revoke the 1972 European Communities Act which enacted the supremacy of EU law in the UK.
Removing the UK from the purview of the ECJ is a key red line for prime minister Theresa May but questions have been raised over whether Britain can totally sever ties with the court if it opts for a transitional trade deal.
The European Parliament, which has a veto over any Brexit deal, has also insisted on a role for the ECJ in enforcing the terms of any exit agreement.
After Brexit, the UK would “not fossilize past decisions of the ECJ” said Mr Davis, although he said that the process of converting EU law to UK laws would still rely on ECJ decisions as precedent “on the day of departure”.
“ECJ case law will be given the same status as decisions of our own Supreme Court” on day one of Brexit, he said.
The government will also ensure all “necessary corrections” are made to EU laws before they are codified into UK law, added Mr Davis, who said the process would not be used as a “vehicle” for policy changes from the government.
The process of converting laws will give the government significant “Henry VIII powers” to amend existing legislation at its discretion. Mr Davis told MPs these powers would be “time limited” as the government was seeking to strike a “balance” between democratic scrutiny and correcting the statute book.
He insisted the changes would be “technical” in nature, with the vast majority of the laws passing unchanged.