Theresa May’s Great Repeal Bill – a Scottish own goal?

von Tobias Lock

Theresa May’s announcement of a Great Repeal Bill at Tory party conference on Sunday has the hallmarks of a stroke of genius: It creates some momentum in the internal Brexit debate without substantively changing anything and without thereby compromising her negotiating position with the EU. It appeases the die-heart Brexiteers in her party by seemingly following their Brexit-blueprint released last week. It may kill off legal challenges pending in the courts of England and Northern Ireland demanding that Parliament be involved before Article 50 TEU is triggered. It may buy her valuable time before starting the formal withdrawal process as the Great Repeal Bill is likely to get bogged down in parliamentary proceedings – let’s not forget that absent a manifesto promise to the repeal the European Communities Act 1972 the House of Lords is not bound by the Salisbury Convention and is free to delay such a move. Lastly, it evokes positive memories of the Great Reform Act of 1832, which considerably broadened and equalised the franchise (for men only, of course) and set Britain on its way to become a modern democracy. Those who want to ‘take back control’ will be pleased.

The proposal of a Great Repeal Bill is rather simple: a Bill will be announced in the next Queen’s speech that the European Communities Act 1972 (ECA) will be repealed. This repeal however will only take effect on the date that the UK has left the EU in accordance with the process foreseen in the EU Treaties – the famous Article 50 TEU. Intriguingly, the Great Repeal Bill will also provide for all EU law currently in force in the UK to be enshrined in UK law and therefore to remain in force. This is a most sensible step as it is the practically only way of avoiding huge gaps, which a wholesale repeal of the ECA would leave ...

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