Tag Archive | "Laura Kuenssberg"

The launch of the Great Repeal Bill


In her letter to Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, triggering Article 50, the Prime Minister said that the Government “would bring forward legislation that will repeal the Act of Parliament – the European Communities Act 1972 – that gives effect to EU law in our country. We also intend to bring forward several other pieces of legislation that address specific issues relating to our departure from the European Union, also with a view to ensuring continuity and certainty, in particular for businesses.”

Unveiling the government’s white paper on the “great repeal bill”, the Brexit secretary David Davis told MPs that as well as transposing aspects of EU legislation into UK law, the bill would create a new power to “correct the statute book.”

The Great Repeal Bill White Paper sets out the government’s proposals for ensuring a functioning statute book once the UK has left the European Union. It aims to provide the detail about the repeal of the European Communities Act 1972, how EU law will be converted into UK law, and how corrections will be made to the statute book.

Davis said: “Once EU law has been converted into domestic law, parliament will be able to pass legislation to amend, repeal or improve any piece of EU law it chooses – as will the devolved legislatures, where they have power to do so,” he said. The bill will provide a power to correct the statute book where necessary to resolve the problems which will occur as a consequence of leaving the EU.

Davis added that the new powers would be temporary. “I can confirm this power will be time-limited. And parliament will need to be satisfied that the procedures in the bill for making and approving the secondary legislation are appropriate. Given the scale of the changes that will be necessary and the finite amount of time available to make them, there is a balance to be struck between the importance of scrutiny and correcting the statute book in time.”

All this is a very formidable task. The ‘Gazette’ quotes legal information specialist Thomson Reuters saying that a total of 52,741 laws have been introduced in the UK as a result of EU legislation since 1990. Thinktank the Institute for Government has reported that up to 15 new parliamentary bills will be required. As each Queen’s speech introduces an average of 20 new bills, this will leave very little space in the parliamentary calendar for non-Brexit related legislation.

The shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, said the proposed bill gave sweeping powers to the executive to change regulations. “Sweeping, because it proposes a power to use a delegated legislation to correct and thus change primary legislation, and also devolved legislation. Sweeping because of the sheer scale of the exercise.”

There are indications of a very bumpy road ahead. Former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, warned that the government will face a difficult balancing act to get the legislation right, given that it wanted to ensure UK laws were compatible with EU rules to make negotiating a trade deal easier.

The SNP’s Europe spokesman Stephen Gethins said: “It strikes me that the government has pushed the big red button marked Brexit with their fingers crossed and very little idea of what comes next.”

And BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg’s view of the Prime Minister is that “On paper her position looks as unpalatable as any prime minister’s in modern times. A negotiation against 27 other countries, some of whom want to make the UK pay. A deal of mind-bending complexity beckons. A wafer thin majority in Parliament. The Scottish government intent on pushing for a vote to break up the other union.

All this, knowing that one false move could wreak havoc on the economy or unleash demons inside her own party.”

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The Supreme Court has ruled


Parliament must vote on whether the government can start the Brexit process, the Supreme Court has ruled. The judgement means Theresa May cannot begin talks with the EU until MPs and peers give their backing, although this is expected to happen in time for the government’s 31 March deadline.

Reading out the judgement, Supreme Court President Lord Neuberger said: “By a majority of eight to three, the Supreme Court today rules that the government cannot trigger Article 50 without an act of Parliament authorising it to do so.

“Withdrawal effects a fundamental change by cutting off the source of EU law, as well as changing legal rights. The UK’s constitutional arrangements require such changes to be clearly authorised by Parliament.”

Attorney General Jeremy Wright said the government was “disappointed” but would “comply” and do “all that is necessary” to implement the court’s judgement. The government had argued that, under the Royal Prerogative (powers handed to the government by the Crown), it could make this move without the need to consult Parliament.

The court also rejected, unanimously, arguments that the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and Northern Ireland Assembly should get to vote on Article 50 before it is triggered.

Key points of the judgement include the fact that the 1972 Act that took the UK into the then EEC creates a process by which EU law becomes a source of UK law, and so long as that act remains in force, it means that EU law is an “independent and overriding source” of the UK’s legal system. Withdrawal from the EU makes a fundamental change to the UK’s constitutional arrangements because it will cut off the source of EU law. The UK constitution requires such changes can only be made by Parliament.

Dominic Casciani, BBC home affairs correspondent, writes: “”This momentous judgement is about one thing alone: the rule of law and how the UK, as a champion of that steady, calm form of government, gets on with the business of leaving the EU.

He added: “But what it also makes clear is that membership of the EU is messy in constitutional terms – so only Parliament has the right to pull us out. It can’t be done by the stroke of a minister’s pen.”

BBC Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg detected “sighs of relief” in Whitehall for two reasons. The verdict from the justices doesn’t take away from the reality that having to go to Parliament before triggering Article 50 is a political inconvenience that Theresa May very much wanted to avoid. But “the justices held back from insisting that the devolved administrations would have a vote or a say on the process. That was, as described by a member of Team May, the ‘nightmare scenario’.”

She said: “Second, the Supreme Court also held back from telling the government explicitly what it has to do next. The judgement is clear that it was not for the courts but for politicians to decide how to proceed next.” Explicit instructions from the court about the kind of legislation they had to introduce would have made ministers’ lives very difficult.

David Davis stated that the government supported the right of the judges to come to their conclusion, after the ‘Daily Mail’ argued: “Yet again, the elite show their contempt for Brexit voters.” There followed a statement from the justice secretary, Liz Truss, who faced criticism for not defending the appeal court justices denounced by sections of the media as “enemies of the people” after they ruled against the government.

Truss said: “Our independent judiciary is the cornerstone of the rule of law and is vital to our constitution and our freedoms. The reputation of our judiciary is unrivalled the world over, and our supreme court justices are people of integrity and impartiality.”

The shadow attorney general, Shami Chakrabarti, argued that it was not enough, and that the prime minister should also speak out.

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Parliament alone has the power to trigger Brexit


The High Court has ruled that Parliament must vote on whether the UK can start the process of leaving the EU. This means that the government cannot trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty on its own.

One of the most important constitutional court cases in generations, it has created a nightmare scenario for the government. The decision has huge implications, not just on the timing but also on the terms of Brexit. Read the full story

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