The government today, Thursday 13th July, published the Repeal Bill, a landmark piece of legislation in Britain’s secession from the European Union.
The Repeal Bill will repeal the legislation that brought the UK into the EU in 1972. It will also seek to convert all EU requirements into British law as soon as the UK exits the bloc.
MPs will begin a series of debates on Friday 14th July. MPs and peers in the Lords will then vote on the bill through the normal parliamentary procedures.
As the process gets underway it is expected that MPs will seek to change aspects of the bill and table amendments.
Scottish and Welsh politicians have united in condemning the repeal Bill as it stands now, calling it a “naked grab for power” on the part of the Conservative Party.
In a Joint statement the Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon (SNP), and the Welsh First Minister, Carwyn Jones (Labour) asserted that, “it is a naked power grab, an attack on the founding principles of devolution and could destabilise our economies.”
“The Scottish and Welsh governments cannot recommend that legislative consent is given to the bill as it currently stands.”
The Scottish and Welsh governments could not technically block the bill from going through altogether. However it would be politically costly if Theresa May were to ignore their opposition, especially given her recent insistence on underlining the party’s title as the Conservative and Unionist party, and concessions given to the DUP after the recent General Election.
Meanwhile the Labour Party have also pledged to vote down the new legislation unless it if significantly altered. The shadow Brexit secretary, Sir Kier Starmer called the bill “not fit for purpose”.
“The bill proposes sweeping new powers for ministers that are fundamentally undemocratic, unaccountable and unacceptable. It fails to guarantee crucial rights will be enforced; it omits the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and it does nothing to ensure that British standards and rights keep pace with our EU partners.”
Labour also set out five key points on which they oppose the bill, including concerns over enforcing workplace rights and environmental standards. Another key issue is that the bill does not include the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
“This codifies human rights in EU law and UK law in modern form and includes important protections in evolving areas such as privacy protections, discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and rights for the elderly. Failure to include the Charter will impact the way that rights are interpreted in UK courts.”, said the Labour briefing note seen by the Guardian.
Jeremy Corbyn today also met with the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier. The Labour leader reportedly assured Barnier of the party’s intention to respect the referendum result. He repeated his unilateral offer of citizens’ rights for EU nationals living in the UK after Brexit, and also pledged that Labour would continue to respect the Paris climate change agreement rather than cut a “sweetheart deal” with the US. Corbyn characterised his two-hour talk with Barnier as “very interesting, very frank”.