MPs to vote on EU repeal bill tonight

MPs will vote for the first time on the repeal bill tonight

MPs are to vote in the UK’s House of Commons tonight on a crucial law paving the way for Brexit, known as the repeal bill.

The bill – which will only come into force once the UK leaves the EU – cancels the 1972 European Communities Act and directly incorporates existing EU laws into UK domestic law, to be repealed later as and when parliament or ministers decide. The 1972 act legislated for the UK to join the then European Community and allowed for EU law, including judgments of the European Court of Justice, to take effect in the UK.

The repeal bill is intended as a solution to the vastly complex task of deciding which of thousands of EU laws should be rejected and which are still relevant.

It does not include incorporation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU or the founding treaties (creating the single market and free movement rules etc), or directives (which have to be enacted by domestic laws anyway), but concerns ‘direct’ legislation, such as (an estimated 12,000) regulations which take effect without domestic laws being passed. The bill also says ECJ decisions before Brexit remain relevant but the UK appeal courts do not have to abide by them.

Controversially, the bill – formal name: European Union (Withdrawal) Bill – includes so-called ‘Henry VIII powers’ (referring to powers of absolute monarchy) allowing ministers to change or remove laws in future without consulting parliament, which is why it is facing stiff opposition, including from Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

Supporters argue these powers are needed because of the massive volume of laws involved and so as not to clog up parliament; those opposed say it is undemocratic and amounts to a “power grab” by the government.

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Brexit Minister David Davis has said MPs risk a “chaotic” withdrawal from the EU if they reject the bill and people “did not vote for confusion” when they voted to leave the EU.

This comes as “thousands” of people reportedly joined a march against Brexit in London on Saturday, at which supporters including Sir Bob Geldof spoke.

Also present was James Chapman, former head of the Brexit Minister’s office, who recently attracted attention with his virulent tweets against Brexit and allegations of incompetence. As expected, he announced he wanted to launch an anti-Brexit party called The Democrats.

The next round of Brexit negotiations is scheduled for next week.

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