After Theresa May formally started the Brexit process yesterday, it fell to David Davis to illustrate what awaited Britain at the end of it with the Great Repeal Bill. The legislation, he told MPs, will do three things: repeal the European Communities Act 1972, transpose all EU law into British statute and allow MPs to replace these rules after Britain leaves the bloc.
The Brexit Secretary said some things to excite Leavers, like that the European Court of Justice will not have a “future role” in the interpretation of UK laws. But they will have to cope with ECJ case law continuing to be referred to by British judges, although it will change – Mr Davis said – “on the day we leave the EU”. They will also be buoyed by Boris Johnson’s piece in this morning’s Telegraph laying out the Government’s vision for life after Brexit. “Now is the time to believe in ourselves, to back Britain, and to do a deal that is good for Europe, for Britain and for the world,” he concluded.
The Great Repeal Bill will nonetheless be a hefty legislative process, as Mr Davis suggested between 800 and 1,000 statutory instruments were needed to transpose EU rules (of which more than 12,000 are in force, according the Government’s White Paper) into British law. Julian Jessop, chief economist at the Institute for Economic Affairs, suggests that the Government should attach time limits to these laws to force civil servants to justify their continued existence. That way, he writes, their mindset would be shifted towards “the idea that less government intervention is better than more”.
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