As she began outlining her vision for Brexit at the Conservative Party conference, Prime Minister Theresa May stated her intention to propose a “great repeal bill” to replace the European Communities Act – the main law governing the application of EU law in the UK.
This is a very important move that marks the beginning of the end of EU law being automatically applied in the UK. That makes it important for British citizens to keep an eye on how the government handles the repeal bill. Will there be sufficient democratic scrutiny of changes that will affect practically every aspect of British life?
Despite its title, the act won’t actually repeal any substantive EU law at all. In fact, it will do just the opposite: it will keep all pre-Brexit EU law in force in the UK. After leaving the EU, the UK can then go through all the laws once covered by the European Communities Act and decide which it wants to keep and which it wants to discard.
The bill will probably be passed as an act of parliament in 2017, but it won’t take effect until Brexit day – which will probably be in spring 2019. That’s because the UK still has to comply with EU requirements until it actually leaves.
But this doesn’t mean that the law will be meaningless. It will prevent post-Brexit EU law from applying to the UK automatically as an EU member state. It will overturn the current rule of EU law “supremacy”, which gives EU laws priority over all other UK laws. It will end the jurisdiction of the EU courts in the UK. And it will provide a system for removing or amending EU laws which apply to the UK – which is the opposite of what the current law does …
This is an extract from an article by Professor Steve Peers, published in The Conversation.