What is the Repeal Bill?
This proposed law will repeal the European Communities Act 1972 which sets out our relationship with the EU and allows our laws to be updated in line with EU rules. It will do two broad jobs:
- Convert existing EU rules into UK law so that there isn’t a sudden legal vacuum on the day after Brexit is complete.
- implement the withdrawal deal.
What’s the problem with that?
In normal circumstances only Parliament can change the law, but because of the enormous task of editing thousands of laws the bill proposes giving ministers special powers to make the changes without having to go through Parliament.
A lot of EU laws can’t just be copied and pasted into UK law. For example, some of them will contain references to EU institutions that may not have jurisdiction in the UK after we leave.
In this case these special powers are necessary, but it does involve handing over enormous power to Ministers. Without safeguards to prevent these powers from being abused, Ministers would be free to dump rules and regulations they don’t like on everything from workers rights,to regulations on what you can put in baby food or clean air standards, with nothing more than the flick of a pen.
How do we fix it?
We need to make sure that these powers are used only to bring back existing EU laws into the UK and not make big policy changes.
We're calling for:
- Clear definitions of what the powers can and can’t be used for.
- An effective system for MPs, as our representatives, to scrutinise the changes to laws that are made.
- Bank all the rules we have now so we can have a debate about the country we want to build in the future.
- We must all be able to take back control - not just Westminster.
Unlock Democracy is leading the civil society campaign to Fix the Repeal Bill. Find out more on the campaign website.
Take action - call your MP asking them to scrutinise it properly. Download our guide to calling your MP here.
Here's Sarah and Sam from our team having a go: