Brexit process to begin by March 2017
The government has confirmed that the first step in the UK’s departure from the European Union will be to enshrine all current EU law into domestic law.
Simultaneously, it will repeal the 1972 European Communities Act (ECA), which means EU law no longer has force in the UK.
The Conservative government is using its party’s annual conference this week to begin to explain what Brexit will look like.
Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, initiating the UK’s departure from the EU, will be initiated no later than the end of March 2017.
However, prime minister Theresa May added a potentially massively significant caveat when telling the party conference that the UK was reclaiming sovereignty. “When the Great Repeal Bill is given Royal Assent, parliament will be free – subject to international agreements and treaties with other countries and the EU on matters such as trade – to amend, repeal and improve any law it chooses.”
In other words, it wonlt be free at all; the UK will continue to be constrained by its international relationships and dictated to by trading agreements that it chooses to enter. That's how the world works.
Assurances continue to be made that foreign nationals from other EU countries working in the UK will probably be allowed to remain. But here too there are caveats, in this case so as not to impede the UK government’s negotiating position.
Brexit secretary David Davis said: “We will always welcome those with the skills, the drive and the expertise to make our nation better still. If we are to win in the global marketplace, we must win the global battle for talent. Britain has always been one of the most tolerant and welcoming places on the face of the earth. It must and it will remain so.
“When it comes to the negotiations, we will protect the rights of EU citizens here, so long as Britons in Europe are treated the same way – something I am absolutely sure we will be able to agree.
“But the clear message from the referendum is this: we must be able to control immigration.”
Mr Davis denied that the government intends to use Brexit to roll back workers’ rights – saying that in some areas, such as annual and parental leave, UK law goes further than minimum standards offered under EU law.
CBI director-general Carolyn Fairbairn commented: “Announcing that Article 50 will be triggered within six months, the prime minister has removed one big question – on timing – but has accelerated an urgent need for answers on others.
“With a rapid timetable pointing to an exit from the EU in spring 2019, businesses need to know the government’s ambition on the fundamental issues of skills and barrier-free access to EU markets as soon as possible.
“With the Great Repeal Bill we now know that on the day the UK leaves the EU, the rules businesses must follow will be broadly the same as they are today. As long as this does not lead to a bonfire of good regulation and maintains consistent rules so companies can trade easily with EU neighbours, this has the potential to help.
“But businesses cannot continue to operate in the dark in other areas. The decisions they face today are real and pressing. The government’s desire to play its negotiating cards close to its chest must be tempered by clear indications on how we will trade with the UK’s most important partner and how firms will be able to employ the people needed to drive growth.
“A clear roadmap for how the government will consult businesses of all sectors and sizes is essential to increase confidence that these complex decisions are taken on the basis of fact and a genuine understanding of the economic implications.
“There has never been a more important time for the government to show pride and confidence in UK business. It is time to do all we can, with government and industry working in sincere partnership to ensure the UK is a great place for businesses to invest. Our economy and future prosperity depend on it.”
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This article was published on 3 Oct 2016 (last updated on 5 Oct 2016).