Duffers Guide to the European Union Withdrawal Bill

By Gareth R Roberts /

So you don’t have to read it, here is a very brief readers guide to the European Union Withdrawal Bill.

Part 1 – concerns the implementation period. It covers the repeal of the European Communities Act 1972 and the measures that will be used to replace existing treaties and  EU regulations with domestic legislation over a period of time.

Part 1A – specifically concern the relationship between EU law, Westminster legislation and the devolved Parliament of Wales and Scotland.

This is massively complicated on its own – think of the number of pieces of legislation covering every aspect of the lives of British people that have been enacted since 1972 – it should, you might think, be open to all MPs as the representatives of the people to question the executive as to how this will impact upon the everyday lives of their constituents and amend if necessary. 

Similarly, the impact on Scotland, Wales (I’ll return to Northern Ireland) is significant – this Bill directly impacts upon their roles as a legislature. 

Part 2 – This concerns the implementation into domestic law of various treaties enacted by the EU, including EFTA, EEA and Swiss Agreements.

These are complex trade and legal arrangements that have taken many years to craft – the Legislature should clearly have the opportunity to consider them, before they are blithely put into UK law. 

Part 3 – this relates to Citizens Rights, and enshrines into law the restrictions and rights of entry into the UK for EU citizens, including the rights of appeal and the right of the Crown to deport; it then goes on to co-ordination of social security rights, the non-discrimination of workers rights and seeks to establish a body called the Independent Monitoring Authority for the Citizens’ Rights Agreement.

This is a massive area of law and public policy, which could lead to many many future bills to establish social security legislation, employment rights and immigration law. I note that at the moment, the way the Bill is drafted does not guarantee any of the existing rights, as none of it is drafted as prescriptive, instead it gives the powers to enact – this means that the passage of the Bill as it currently stands would lead to these 3 fundamental areas of public life being left in a state of limbo once the implementation period is over. 

Given that much of the Brexit debate has been about immigration matters, then this is clearly something that will need to be considered very carefully by Parliament.  

Part 4 – this concerns maintaining the Human Rights Act and the legislation that devolves powers and enshrines the competences of the Scottish Parliament, Stormont and the Welsh Assembly. It allows for the implementation of joint initiatives and then goes on to outline the money – stating in principle the fact that UK will pay its dues and states that Parliament will eventually determine how much.

his is interesting  – no figure is set for the divorce bill, though one assumes that this will be specified in the deal, but it is open for Parliament to change that in future – one for Bill Cash and John Redwood I feel! 

It goes on to state that the provisions of the Northern Ireland Act (essentially the Belfast Agreement) will be maintained, as will the co-operation between the north and south of Ireland.

This is clearly significant. 

S.13A and B are quite interesting, they allow for the European Union Select Committee to review EU legislation during the period of the implementation period and compels a Minister to report to Parliament.

This brings home the fact that (1) we will always feel the impact of EU legislation, only in future we will have no chance to influence it; and (2) that during the implementation period a change in the make up Parliament may lead to a significantly different way in which EU legislation is considered.

Part 5 – for Brexiteers, this is the money shot! This Part recognise that parliament is sovereign.

Utterly pointless, and just about the only thing that could be passed within 3 days – Parliament is, and always has been Sovereign.

This is a very brief summary – but, it is clear that this is a Bill with massive repercussions for Britain and its people  – the idea that this can be debated, amendments considered and passed through both Houses within a few days is utterly absurd – remember the aim of Brexit was supposed to be taking back control of our democracy and our sovereignty – very few Brexiteers have ever been able to adequately define what that actually is, well, how about this – the definition of Parliamentary Sovereignty and Parliamentary Democracy is the right of legislature to adequately scrutinise all law or public policy that will impact upon the citizens of the nation. If the Brexiteers truly believe this, then there is no way, not in a million years that they would rush through legislation as significant as this.




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