EU Referendum

Is Boris Johnson about to declare he’s backing Brexit? His wife writes 2,700-word essay savaging David Cameron’s EU deal

  • Marina Wheeler says the deal ducks key legal problem with the EU ‘entirely’
  • Human rights lawyer says PM’s plans ‘raise more questions than answers’ 
  • Current status quo with European Court of Justice is ‘untenable’, she adds
  • Wheeler’s intervention is a strong indication her husband will back Brexit
  • For more of the latest on Cameron’s EU deal visit

In a damning assessment of the Prime Minister’s proposals for reform, Marina Wheeler QC, a human rights lawyer, said they ‘raise more questions than they answer’.

And on the key issue of sovereignty – the most important area for Mr Johnson – she said the plan for a ‘red card’ for national parliaments to veto unwanted EU laws ‘ducks the issue entirely’.

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Marina Wheeler, pictured with her husband Boris Johnson, has written a damning legal assessment of the Prime Minister's draft proposals for reforming Britain's membership of the EU

 David Cameron, pictured with Boris Johnson, knows that winning the backing of the London Mayor is crucial in his hope to keep Britain in the EU

 Wheeler’s letter is a strong indication that her husband will back the Brexit campaign after months speculation.

Accusing Cameron of ignoring the real problems of Britain’s membership of the EU, she writes that ‘proper reform’ should address the way the EU enforces its legislation.

She says the Prime Minister’s renegotiation should have reviewed the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, ‘whose reach has extended to a point where the status quo is untenable’.

 The ECJ is ‘eroding national sovereignty,’ she writes, and also ‘undermines legal certainty’ and ‘good governance’.

Wheeler leaves open the possibility of backing Cameron in the referendum but suggests she will only do so if he significantly broadens his demands for reform.

‘Now, when Britain is debating its relationship to the EU, we should state our position afresh,’ she writes in an essay for the Human Rights Blog.

‘Here is an opportunity to restore a measure of constitutional coherence. Let us not pass it by.’

Wheeler’s intervention will intensify speculation that Johnson will campaign for Brexit, which would deal a major blow to Cameron’s hopes of keeping Britain in the EU.

Boris Johnson, pictured with his wife Marina Wheeler during a Sikh New Year celebration, wants assurances that Cameron will bring in laws that affirm the supremacy of the British Parliament over EU law

  Boris Johnson says the EU ‘red card’ powers deal is not enough

 Wheeler, pictured with her husband on polling day, said the European Court of Justice 'erodes sovereignty'

 The Prime Minister promised Johnson that he will introduce plans in the coming days to ‘put beyond doubt’ the supremacy of the House of Commons over EU law after the London Mayor demanded assurances over British sovereignty.

Friends of Johnson said he had given the Prime Minister a one-week deadline to come up with the proposals – before he travels to Brussels on February 18 for his crunch EU summit with his 27 fellow European leaders.

He will hope to secure agreement on his renegotiation package at the summit before heading back to the UK for a four-month referendum campaign.

But winning the backing of Johnson is seen as crucial and plans to bring in the ‘sovereignty bill’ is seen as a direct attempt to win over his support.

By writing such a damning assessment of Cameron’s renegotiation, however, Wheeler has again cast doubt over Johnson’s stance on the referendum.

She writes: ‘Politically, the proposals may be just the job: a new commitment to enhance competitiveness, proposals to limit benefits to migrants, recognition that member states’ different aspirations for further integration must be respected, and creation of a ‘red card’ mechanism to block EU legislation.

‘Legally, however, they raise more questions than they answer.’

Wheeler adds: ‘This ought to have been an opportunity to look at the Court of Justice of the European Union, whose reach has extended to a point where the status quo is untenable.

‘Aside from eroding national ­sovereignty (which it does) the current situation also undermines legal certainty — which, in turn, undermines good governance.

‘Proper reform needs to address the EU legal order, in particular the jurisdictional muscle-­flexing of the Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

‘The new proposals do not do this. Instead, they duck the issue entirely — clearing the way for a whole new body of EU rights law.’


Boris Johnson warned that the current proposals for an 'emergency brake' were 'minor' tweaks to benefit rules and would not allow Britain to 'recapture' control of its borders, which are coming under increasing strain from thousands of migrants trying to cross the Channel from Calais, pictured above

Boris Johnson warned that the current proposals for an ’emergency brake’ were ‘minor’ tweaks to benefit rules and would not allow Britain to ‘recapture’ control of its borders, which are coming under increasing strain from thousands of migrants trying to cross the Channel from Calais, pictured above

 Boris Johnson has accused David Cameron of not trying hard enough to regain control of Britain’s borders as speculation intensifies over which side of the EU campaign he will join.

The Prime Minister hailed proposals for an ’emergency brake’ on EU migrants’ access to benefits as ‘substantial change’ when he unveiled his draft deal for Britain to remain in the EU last week.

But the Mayor of London dismissed the changes as a ‘minor’ tweak to benefit rules.

And he complained that the Government had accepted that freedom of movement was ‘an age-old inviolable principle of the EU’.

The Mayor of London said he would like to remain in the EU but insisted he would ‘wait until you see the whites of their eyes’ before making his decision.

‘This is not quite so,’ he wrote in his Daily Telegraph column. ‘Until recently it only applied to “workers” rather than all EU citizens.

‘Why didn’t we try harder to recapture control of our borders, rather than stick at this minor (if worthwhile) change to the law on benefits?

‘There may be a good explanation, but we need to hear it.’

 Prime Minister details plans for ’emergency brake’ on benefits

Mr Johnson piled pressure on Cameron by adding:’ Let’s hope for some answers in the next fortnight.’

But Downing Street responded to his comments by insisting Cameron had put a ‘vast amount of time and effort’ in securing concessions on migration and welfare.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said: ‘At the start of it, people said there was “no point even trying to get these discussions, you wouldn’t get anything from the EU, you wouldn’t get any kind of change on migration or welfare, you wouldn’t get an emergency brake, none of these things would happen”.

‘Actually the Prime Minister has gone out, worked hard, he has negotiated and he’s go to a point where we now have proposals on the table from Donald Tusk which address these core issues.’

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