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Analysis

New Bill confirms it: we’ll be rule-takers after ‘exit day’

by Luke Lythgoe | 25.07.2018

Brexiters always promised we’d take back control of our laws if we quit the EU. What is now abundantly clear – from the government’s latest legislation, the Withdrawal Agreement and Implementation Bill (WAIB) – is that we will lose control of them for some time after “exit day”.

Remember the Withdrawal Act, which was hard fought over in Parliament until it passed less than a month ago? Its purpose was to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 (ECA), which took us into what became the EU, and to move all EU law onto the UK’s statute books. Well, WAIB takes a big red marker pen to all of that, promising to “ensure that EU law continues to apply” in the UK by saving “the effect” of the ECA.

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Brexit secretary Dominic Raab was at pains to stress yesterday that only “parts” of EU law will continue to apply. He’s right. But the bits we’re throwing away include all our power: our right to sit at the EU’s top table as well as our European Commissioner, MEPs and judge at the European Court of Justice.

This legislative shambles confirms we will be a rule-taker throughout the transition period – scheduled to last until the end of 2020 but which in reality could end up being much longer if we don’t strike a new partnership quickly. That’s a situation which will frustrate both Brexiters and patriotic pro-Europeans alike.

It also makes a mockery of the firm EU exit date, which May set in stone as March 29 2019. At the time lots of sensible arguments were put forward about why this was a dangerous idea that risked us crashing out of the EU by accident. But the prime minister went ahead with her “gimmick” as a bit of red meat for her Brextremist backbenchers. Following her latest u-turn, expect renewed fury in Parliament in the autumn.

Edited by Hugo Dixon

2 Responses to “New Bill confirms it: we’ll be rule-takers after ‘exit day’”

  • Derek, if it were “keeping things as they are” then it would not be a problem. But it isn’t.
    The current situation is a balance: we agree to abide by decisions made at EU level, and in exchange we get a strong say in determining what those decisions will be. The current proposal (at time of writing!) breaks that balance: we would still be abiding by the decisions, but we’d have given up any influence in making them. So much for “taking back control”!
    As you say, the sensible course of action would have been to split the decision into two stages: first decide whether there’s enough interest to be worth the time and effort of nailing down the details of what’s achievable, then decide whether that package is better than the existing one before committing to it. That’s what any sane organisation in any normal field would do, and is quite literally Management 101. Draw conclusions about politics and/or politicians as you wish.