Then, on Thursday we had the first government white paper on the Great Repeal Bill. The paper laid out the broad objectives and strategy for bringing EU law over onto our statute books, including the repeal of the 1972 European Communities Act. The consensus from law experts on twitter was that it was a bit thin on detail, and whilst the white paper confirmed that the interpretation of EU laws post-Brexit will be that of the Court of Justice of the European Union going forward, it raised questions around what happens as said EU laws or regulations change beyond then – do the changes apply to us too? I am a legal novice and thus struggled with this a fair deal, but twitter came to the rescue, and I would recommend following the thread below started by Professor of Public Law at Cambridge, Mark Elliott:
Then, right at the end, there was a short clause about Gibraltar, simply stating that Spain would be required to consent to any future UK-EU deals covering the British Overseas Territory and its 30,000 people. The inclusion of this paragraph is pretty odd however, as it states something that would be a given anyway - EU FTAs require unanimity giving any member state a veto. So why is it there? I’m guessing it’s because Spain asked for it to be there. There’s been reports that mentioning Gibraltar in the Article 50 negotiation letter was repeatedly fired around within government but was rejected, and it could be argued that including it at the end of their immediate response was a bit of a naughty negotiating tool by the EU, who could be seen to have turned the people of Gibraltar into a bargaining chip. Alas, it seems there are many old-timey politicians who are literally bursting to mention the Falklands at every opportunity, and so all of a sudden we’re all talking about going to war with Spain or something, and there are articles in serious newspapers about how our navy could destroy Spain’s; then a Spanish MEP accused Britain of ‘losing its cool’; then the chief minister of Gibraltar accused the EU of ‘behaving like a cuckolded husband’ who were being ‘bullied’ by Spain; then we had Boris and EU diplomats on TV talking about the future of Gibraltar; then we had people pointing out the irony that 4 days after notifying the EU we wanted to leave we’re all talking about a potential war, one of the things that the EU was created to stop. All of this happened and became a very serious international affairs matter essentially because the EU allowed Spain to troll a forgotten politician into saying something silly and despite the fact we all laughed at him. Bring on the next two (or five, or ten) years.