The Great Repeal Bill to bring into UK law all existing EU law after Brexit has been published by the government.

The 66-page Bill, entitled the European Union (withdrawal) Bill, is designed to remove from UK law the 1972 European Communities Act at the same time as incorporating EU law into UK law. Parliament will then be able to make changes to the laws when it wishes.

There is currently around 20,000 EU legislative acts in force with around 5,000 applying in the UK.

The Great Repeal Bill gives government ministers so-called Henry VIII powers, named after the Tudor monarch who inflated the power of the Crown, so that they can make lots of technical changes to the law without the full process of Parliament. This will be important after Brexit in order to reflect ever-changing EU laws.

It also sets out how retained EU law is to be read and interpreted after Brexit. Decisions of the Court of Justice of the European Union made after Brexit will not be binding on UK courts and tribunals, and domestic courts and tribunals will no longer be able to refer cases to the Court of Justice.

David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, said: ‘It is one of the most significant pieces of legislation that has ever passed through Parliament and is a major milestone in the process of our withdrawal from the European Union.”

Negotiations with the EU

Negotiations with the EU about the UK’s exit are continuing, and the clock is ticking down to the March 2019 leaving date. The Great Repeal Bill will have to reflect those negotiations to accommodate the final deal. One option appears to be gaining popularity and that is of following Norway with continued membership of the European Economic Area (EEA), and thus participation in the EU’s Single Market. This could either be a transitional or final arrangement.

Even though Norway is not a member of the EU, it does make payments connected to its membership of the EEA, and it does have a say over areas of EU law that concern it, including a right to reject EU legislation – though probably not without consequences.

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