Brexit: the Repeal Bill is published and Corbyn visits Brussels

This week, Zoe from PLMR explains what the Repeal Bill means and what Jeremy Corbyn has been up to. 

This time next week politicians will be heading back to their constituencies for the summer holidays.

So while formal parliamentary activity will cease until September, Government cogs will still be whirring away, as will all things Brexit – there's a lot of work to do over the next 18 months or so.

The Repeal Bill 

One of the key developments over the last two weeks was the release of the ‘Repeal Bill’ - more formally known as the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.

This legislation will underpin the UK’s exit from the EU, and will make sure that EU law no longer applies to the UK.

This Bill will repeal, or undo, the European Communities Act 1972 through which the UK joined the EU – that’s the idea anyway.

The process of the Repeal Bill will essentially involve two steps:

  • Step 1: The day after we leave the EU, all existing EU legislation will be copied across into domestic UK law. This is aimed at making sure there's a smooth transition from us being in the UK one day, and out of it the next
  • Step 2: The UK Parliament will then start the long process of "amending, repealing and improving" the laws as deemed necessary to fit with the UK’s statue book

Although the Bill will not be debated until the autumn, it has already been met with criticism:

David Davis discussing Repeal Bill in Parliament

David Davis discussing Repeal Bill in Parliament

  • Brexit Minister David Davis has said that this Bill ‘will end the supremacy of EU law’ – but at the moment it looks like we’re just going to be incorporating EU law into UK law, at least for the short term
  • After over 40 years in the EU, there are vast swathes of EU law mixed up with UK law.

    Don’t forget that membership of the EU means that EU law takes precedence over our own and there are approximately 80,000 legal instruments that make up the EU law that binds member states.

    Going through each, or even a number, of these, is going to be no mean feat! 
  • Representatives of the House of Lords have warned of a ‘massive transfer of legislative competence from Parliament to Government’ as the Bill essentially gives the Government the power to decide which laws to amend, repeal or improve without consulting Parliament
  • The Bill does not incorporate the European Charter of Fundamental Rights into British law and the Labour party has said that it will vote against the Bill on these grounds
  • Leaders in Scotland and Wales have criticised the Bill for undermining devolution and have labelled it as a ‘power grab’

Given this criticism, commentators have said that this Bill will result in Theresa May losing her job (which she has managed to hang onto since the election).

And this was all just on the day that the Bill was released. It’s more than likely that, as people have more time to delve into the EU laws the UK will absorb, more issues will arise which will affect British businesses.

The Government will have to work hard to get the Bill passed through both Houses of Parliament before it can become law and be enacted in time for the UK’s exit from the EU – watch this space!


Corbyn and Brexit

Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn is making sure he’s in as strong a position as possible as far as Brexit, and potential Prime Minister-ship is concerned - in June, Corbyn said he will be Prime Minister in six months, and as we’ve learnt over the last couple of years, anything is possible as far as politics is concerned…

Yesterday, Corbyn met with Michel Barnier, the EU’s Chief Negotiator for Brexit, to set out his vision for Brexit, which focused on potential continued membership of the single market – this would be very significant from a trading point of view.

This was also an opportunity for Corbyn and Barnier to exchange gifts.

Corbyn presented Barnier with a personalised Arsenal football shirt along with a copy of Labour’s manifesto, and received in return poster of the Savoie region in France (Barnier’s former constituency).

While Corbyn’s discussions with Barnier don't contribute to or undermine the Government’s formal negotiations, it will help Barnier to understand the competing interests at play in the UK concerning our future relationship with the EU.

Also, given the weakness of the Conservative party following last month’s election, Labour is in a much stronger position than previously expected, so Corbyn’s relationship with Barnier may prove significant.  

The Government’s negotiations are set to continue on Monday and I’ll give you a run-down of the immediate outcomes of that in my next blog.