I have received a large number of standard emails regarding the Repeal Bill, currently in its Second Reading stage. The majority of these have asked me to vote in favour of the unamended bill, however others have either expressed concerns about this bill or asked me to reject it entirely.
In accordance with my previous statements, both in the House and on this website, I will be supporting the unamended bill. Approximately 60% of voters in Selby & Ainsty voted to leave the European Union, and I look forward to taking this important step in the process of delivering on their verdict in the referendum.
The Prime Minister has been clear that she wishes to minimise disruption to businesses and individuals as the UK leaves the EU. That is why the Repeal Bill is being introduced and why I support it. This bill will transfer EU law, including the case law of the European Court of Justice, into UK law at the point of the UK’s departure from the EU. This will make sure that the UK has a functioning statute book when it leaves the EU and it will provide the maximum amount of certainty, control and continuity. Our Parliament will then be able to devote the proper amount of time and scrutiny to amending or repealing any laws as we see fit.
The Bill will also give ministers in the UK Government and in the devolved administrations a temporary power to make legal corrections to transposed EU legislation. This will be time-limited to two years after exit day. Parliament or the devolved legislatures will also be able to scrutinise any statutory instrument made under this power. I must emphasise that the power could only be used to make corrections to transposed law, for example, by removing references in transposed EU law to the UK as a member state of the EU. The Bill is not a vehicle for major policy changes. The volume of European law that presently applies to the UK is immense – in the hundreds of thousands of pages. I would ask those who have asked me to vote to amend the bill exactly what system they would devise which would be timely, ensure we have a functioning statute book, and satisfy their requirements, as I must say I believe the powers being given are appropriately limited both in scope and in time and I cannot see a better way to handle this. I note that none of the standard emails I received actually included a concrete counter-proposal, much less a workable one.
In particular reply to those who wanted me to reject the bill, and Brexit, in its entirety, I also believe that a future partnership between the UK and the EU is in the interests of both sides. As the Prime Minister has explained, a good deal for Britain and a good deal for Europe are not competing alternatives and they are not mutually exclusive. I want to make it absolutely clear that I do not want or expect an outcome with no deal. A responsible government should, of course, prepare for all eventualities and this is exactly what my ministerial colleagues are doing. This includes the unlikely scenario where no agreement can be reached.