The government has now published what used to be known as the Great Repeal Bill but has had to drop the ‘Great’ as adjectives are not allowed to be used in Bill titles. It’s official title is the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.
The Bill is designed to ensure that the UK exits the EU with maximum certainty, continuity and control. As far as possible, the same rules and laws will apply on the day after exit as on the day before. This will allow the UK to leave the EU while ensuring that our future laws will be made in London, Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff.
For businesses, workers and consumers across the UK that means they can have confidence that they will not be subject to unexpected changes on the day we leave the EU. It also delivers on our promise to end the supremacy of EU law in the UK.
The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, David Davis, said: “This Bill means that we will be able to exit the European Union with maximum certainty, continuity and control. That is what the British people voted for and it is exactly what we will do – ensure that the decisions that affect our lives are taken here in the UK.
“It is one of the most significant pieces of legislation that has ever passed through Parliament and is a major milestone in the process of our withdrawal from the European Union.
“By working together, in the national interest, we can ensure we have a fully functioning legal system on the day we leave the European Union.
“The eyes of the country are on us and I will work with anyone to achieve this goal and shape a new future for our country.”
The Repeal Bill is a mechanism to achieve three simple aims:
- Repeal the European Communities Act, remove supremacy of EU law and return control to the UK.
- Convert EU law into UK law where appropriate, giving businesses continuity to operate in the knowledge that nothing has changed overnight, and providing certainty that rights and obligations will not be subject to sudden change.
- Create the necessary temporary powers to correct the laws that no longer operate appropriately so that our legal system continues to function outside the EU.
The Bill sets out how we will prepare our statute book for exit but will not make major changes to policy or legislation beyond what is necessary to ensure the law continues to work properly on day one.
As we exit the EU we want to ensure power sits closer to the people of the UKthan ever before. The Bill will ensure that nothing changes for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – they will not lose any of their current decision-making powers.
The Government expects there will be a significant increase in the decision-making power of each devolved administration.
As powers are repatriated from the EU, the Government will ensure they are exercised within the UK in a way that ensures no new barriers to living and doing business within the UK are created. This will protect the UK internal market, ensuring we have the ability to strike the best trade deals around the world, protect our common resources, and fulfil our international obligations.
The Government has already made clear that as the Bill affects the powers of the devolved administrations and legislates in devolved areas, we will seek the consent of the devolved legislatures for the Bill. We would like all parts of the UK to come together in support of this legislation, which is crucial to delivering the outcome of the referendum.
The Bill will also provide the Government with a limited power to implement elements of the withdrawal agreement we expect to reach with the EU before we exit.
We are clear we want a smooth and orderly exit and the Bill is integral to that approach.
To ensure we are prepared for the process of withdrawal from the EU, the Government will also introduce a number of Bills over the course of the next two years including a Customs Bill and an Immigration Bill.
The Repeal Bill means we can make corrections to EU law so that it functions as UK law – this could involve changing a reference to a particular piece of EUlaw or transferring important functions from EU institutions to UKinstitutions, depending on the outcome of the negotiations. Allowing corrections to be made quickly will provide certainty for business.