May plans key Brexit law
Pro-EU protesters rally in Centenary Square, Birmingham, which is hosting the Conservative Party conference. Source: EuraTimes
UK Prime Minister Theresa May is due to announce that she will repeal the 1972 European Communities Act in a move that will formally begin the Brexit process.
Addressing the Conservative Party Conference for the first time as leader, May will declare that she will begin work to end the legislation that gives EU law supremacy in Britain.
A “Great Repeal Bill” would be introduced as early as next year, her office said. Conservative Party chairman Patrick McLaughlin told the BBC the party was “very serious” about starting the process of leaving the EU, but added negotiations would not be conducted in public.
“You don’t say exactly what you are going to negotiate on, but once negotiations are concluded we will say what we’ve achieved and how we’ve achieved it,” he told the BBC. “To give a running commentary on every last sentence and paragraph would be ridiculous.”
The announcement is May’s first firm commitment on Brexit since becoming premier in July and marks a major step on the road to ending EU membership. Eurosceptics are likely to cheer the news after they put repealing the law at the heart of a “Brexit manifesto” published ahead of the June 23 referendum. Ministers will also apparently announce EU-style protections for workers’ rights, such as parental leave and automatic holiday.
It is intended to show critics that May does have a plan for Brexit, after months of delays and bland statements. Three anti-EU Cabinet ministers – Boris Johnson, Liam Fox and David Davis – will apparently show a unified front on the first day of the conference in Birmingham.
May said: “We will introduce, in the next Queen’s Speech, a Great Repeal Bill that will remove the European Communities Act from the statute book. That was the act that took us into the European Union. “This marks the first stage in the UK becoming a sovereign and independent country once again. It will return power and authority to the elected institutions of our county. It means that the authority of EU law in Britain will end.”
Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, will say: “EU law will be transposed into domestic law, wherever practical, on exit day. It will be for elected politicians here to make the changes to reflect the outcome of our negotiation and our exit. That is what people voted for: power and authority residing once again with the sovereign institutions of our own country.”
The European Communities Act 1972 allowed Britain to join the bloc in 1973, enshrining the supremacy of European law and making the European Court of Justice the ultimate arbiter in legal disputes.