He also sought to play down the importance of the ECJ in the dispute, telling reporters: “I can tell you that in all my meetings I’ve had… I had quite a few of these interactions and exchanges, and in all of these discussions, the issue of the European Court of Justice was mentioned once.”
Despite the clear fault lines, there is building optimism that a fix can be found to keep EU judges at arms length, although any compromise will likely face opposition from the DUP and some Tory Brexiteers.
The possible landing zone could be modelled on the EU’s treaty with Switzerland, where an independent arbitration panel resolves dispute. However, when questions about EU law are posed, the ECJ would then offer a view, which must then be taken into account by the panel.
“The PM and David are very keen that if we are to come to an agreement it is one that will endure forever, which is why the ECJ is so central to it,” a senior UK source said last night,
“There has to be a governance and arbitration process, it just can’t be the European Court. But the EU does accept other international arbitration mechanisms in its dealings. If they can move on that then we could be onto something.”