Brexit papers published yesterday have revealed that the European Court of Justice (ECJ) could retain a say on UK law despite previous statements from the Tory government saying otherwise.
The Guardian reported that, according to these new position documents, the UK could still be forced to implement the ECJ’s rulings on “vexed issues such as immigration” for years after Brexit.
This is yet another U-turn from the Tory government, as only last month David Davis explained to the public why the ECJ’s jurisdiction would end after Brexit by using a football analogy: “If Manchester United played Real Madrid, you would not let Real pick the referee”.
Now Theresa May’s government is leaving the door open by suggesting that future disputes between a post-Brexit Britain and the EU would likely involve European judges or the application of ECJ case law.
This could be good news for EU citizens living in the UK and businesses trading with the EU, but what does it say about the current government?
Theresa May has been Prime Minister for just over a year. And whilst progress on Brexit - her main priority - has been sluggish at best, May has become increasingly better at promising one thing and doing the exact opposite. The majority of U-turns were the result of a widespread backlash to the proposals and therefore a welcome move, but they’re a telling sign of how things are currently done in Westminster and why Brexit negotiations have been so slow.
So we took a trip down memory lane to look at some of Theresa May’s U-turns:
Not calling a general election. But then doing just that a few months later.
Making social care more expensive through the so-called Dementia Tax, then scrapping plans after a heavy backlash.
Pledging to scrap free meals for primary school pupils, then dropping the idea after waves of criticism.
Agreeing to provide asylum for over 3000 refugee children, then deciding not to anymore after letting 350 into the country.
Deciding to raise national insurance for self-employed people, then being forced to scrap this after criticism from within the party. Technically this wasn’t a U-turn, but a full-circle as it broke a Tory manifesto pledge in the first place.
Being forced into another climbdown after the Home Secretary suggested businesses would be asked to list the numbers of their foreign workers.
Forcing low-performing schools to become academies, then deciding not to after backlash from the profession.
Perhaps the most important U-turn to point out happened as Theresa May became Prime Minister – turning into a hard Brexiteer after quietly supporting Remain under David Cameron’s leadership.
We welcome the decision to leave way for future involvement with the ECJ. But in order for Brits (as well as all EU citizens directly affected by Brexit) to feel some sort of certainty about their future and that of their families, careers and businesses, the Prime Minister must actually start leading a strong and stable government.