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Great Repeal Bill: transfer of laws

More power-sharing, more talks on labour market

David Davis
David Davis: return of power

The Great Repeal Bill will pave the way for power to be shared across the nations of the UK, and for workers to retain their ability to live and work where they choose – at least until the date of the UK’s departure, it was said today.

The bill will overturn the 1972 legislation that took Britain into what became the European Union and bring laws back to Britain.

In a statement today the Government refuted claims by Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that Westminster planned a “power grab” by repatriating laws from Holyrood to Westminster.

Ms Sturgeon signed a letter to the Prime Minister Theresa May formally requesting a second Scottish independence referendum.

She said her mandate for another vote was “beyond question”, and warned it would be “democratically indefensible and utterly unsustainable” to attempt to stand in the way.

Downing Street says it will reject Ms Sturgeon’s request.

Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon signs letter

The UK government said the Repeal Bill will not make major changes to policy or establish new legal frameworks in the UK, beyond those which are necessary to ensure the law functions properly.

It said that “once we have left the EU, and EU law has been converted into UK law by the Bill, the UK parliament (and, where appropriate, the devolved legislatures of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) can make changes to laws to reflect domestic or international policy.”

On the issue of workers’ rights of residency, it said that “the way that UK businesses will be able to employ EU nationals once the UK has withdrawn from the European Union…is a matter for discussion in negotiations.”

It makes clear that it is the Prime Minister’s intention that securing the future status of EU nationals currently in the UK and UK nationals currently in the EU is a “priority for agreement”.

The bill was described by the government today as “a significant step in the country’s journey towards leaving the EU and taking back control of our laws”.

It is designed to prepare the ground for the UK’s exit in order to minimise disruption and provide certainty for business.

It will repeal the European Communities Act and convert EU law (as it applies in the UK) into domestic law on the day Britain leaves. This means that, as far as possible, the same laws and rules will apply immediately before and immediately after departure, ensuring a stable and smooth transition.

The Bill will establish a stable legal framework for Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, and provide the basis for its future relationship with Europe.

The Court of Justice of the European Union will no longer have a role in interpreting new UK laws, although the government states that the UK will continue to honour its international commitments and follow international law.

In parallel with the passage of the Great Repeal Bill, the Government will engage in negotiations with the EU to reach agreement on other issues that affect businesses.

This will include prioritising a reciprocal arrangement for EU citizens living in the UK  and UK citizens living in the EU, and access to European markets.

The government states that the UK has made a clear commitment to protect workers’ rights and ensure that they keep pace with the changing labour market.

All of the employment rights that are enjoyed under EU law will be converted into domestic law by the Great Repeal Bill. This will give certainty and continuity to employees and employers alike, ensuring the existing stable framework persists.

There has been no change to the rights and status of EU nationals in the UK as a result of the referendum. Until the UK leaves the EU, EU nationals “continue to have the same rights to live and work in the UK”. This means that businesses can continue to employ EU nationals as they currently do now.

As to the way that UK businesses will be able to employ EU nationals once the UK has withdrawn from the European Union, “this is a matter for discussion in negotiations”.

The government states the Prime Minister has been clear that securing the future status of EU nationals currently in the UK and UK nationals currently in the EU is a priority for agreement.

The Great Repeal Bill will preserve relevant EU law to ensure domestic law functions appropriately after exit. This stability will give businesses and consumers clarity and confidence in their domestic rights and obligations.

The Bill will be introduced in the next parliamentary session.

Brexit Secretary David Davis told MPs in the Commons that the aim of the bill was “to bring decisions back to this House”.

He said there would be no reduction in the powers devolved to the nations.

The bill, he said, would allow businesses to continue operating after the UK has left the EU “knowing the rules have not changed overnight”.

He added it would also ensure workers’ and consumers’ rights as well as environmental safeguards were preserved.

“Our laws will then be made in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast and interpreted not by judges in Luxembourg but by judges across the United Kingdom,” Mr Davis said.

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