Against a ticking clock, Brexit has been rapidly advancing and it can be hard to keep up with the latest news. In the autumn, the Repeal Bill - the first major piece of Brexit legislation - will go before the House of Commons for a second reading. Now is therefore the time to get in the know about what is going to be one of the most constitutionally significant pieces of legislation in the UK’s history, and we’ve collated some recommended reading that we hope will help you to decipher some of Brexit’s complexities.
At Unlock Democracy, we’ve been busy with our Democratic Brexit campaign, where we’re calling for Brexit to be transparent, accountable, and for the people. Our latest report, ‘A Democratic Brexit: Avoiding Constitutional Crisis in Brexit Britain’ provides a blueprint for how Parliament, the people, and the devolved nations can be meaningfully engaged in shaping the process.
The Brexit process itself is quite complicated, and if you’re feeling a bit lost then it’s worth reading Simple Politics’ great explainer, ‘Brexit, what happens now,’ for a broad overview of where we are and what to expect next.
The summer has also given us the opportunity to take a breath and reflect on the passing of one year since the referendum of the UK’s membership of the EU. We wrote a blog reflecting this, concluding that many of our worries have stayed the same.
One of the most discussed policy areas is how Brexit and the Repeal Bill could affect our environmental standards. Brexit poses serious risks to our environmental regulations, which is particularly acute in context of the Repeal Bill as ministers could drop key protections with little scrutiny.
If you want more reading, David Allen Green has put together his list of Brexit stories, tweets and links that he thinks you should read. Alternatively, some briefings worth reading are:
Global Justice Now’s briefing, ‘Giving Away Control’ - This outlines how Brexit will make trade deals less democratic, and what you can do to stop trade deals without public consultation.
Legal Education Foundation’s Briefing Paper: The Repeal Bill - This briefing outlines the process of the Repeal Bill, and some of the legal implications for the devolved nations, rule of law and the Constitution as a whole.
Amnesty International’s briefing, ‘What Brexit means for Human Rights’ - Amnesty calls for rights to be protected, and not to be used as bargaining chips in trade negotiations.
Greener UK’s Four Priorities - Greener UK has put together briefings on fishing, agriculture, climate and energy, and environmental laws, that offers a wider understanding of how Brexit and the Repeal Bill could affect the environment.
The Repeal Bill
July saw the introduction of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill - more commonly known as the Repeal Bill. The sweeping powers given to ministers by the bill is worth keeping a close eye on - the BBC have outlined some concerns which we think should concern you too! You may also want to read our in-depth briefing on the bill that aims to make what is a complicated and technical piece of legislation a little bit easier to understand.
There are also discussions around the effects of the Repeal Bill on different sectors. For example, the bill will not transfer the European Charter of Fundamental Rights into UK law. There are concerns this could lead to a watering down of rights, which was particularly evident in the Walker case around equal pension rights. Global Justice Now has written a briefing that summarises the rights and regulations at risk from the bill, and what they think should be done to stop this.
Also in the news
Lobbying has continued to be a hot topic. Recently, the first ever serving MP was registered as a lobbyist, and our director blogged for the Huffington Post about what this says about the failings of the UK’s lobbying register. We know there are successful models for clamping down on big money in politics, and the success of Ireland’s tough lobbying register is a good example of rules the UK could follow.
Another issue that has sparked national interest this summer was MPs employing their spouses and other family members to work in their offices. With around one in five MPs still employing a family member, our director told the BBC that “the ban on new MPs employing family members reflects the public's concerns about nepotism and the potential abuse of public money,” and called for a “clear end date” for the transition to the Independent Parliamentary Standard Authority’s (IPSA) new rules, which ban the practice for new MPs.