The “Great Repeal Bill” – White Paper:

The Government’s first objective as we negotiate a new deep and special partnership with the European Union is to provide business, the public sector, and everybody in our country with as much certainty as possible as we move through the process.

This clarity will help people to plan effectively, recruit appropriately and invest as necessary while the negotiations continue and the new partnership we will enjoy with the European Union is being formed.

We have already been able to provide some clarity and reassurance in certain sectors. For example, last year the Government acted quickly to give certainty about farm payments and university funding. And we have also pledged to put the final deal that is agreed between the UK and the EU to a vote in both Houses of Parliament before it comes into force.

Our decision to convert the ‘acquis’ – the body of European legislation – into UK law at the moment we repeal the European Communities Act is an essential part of this plan.

This approach will provide maximum certainty as we leave the EU. The same rules and laws will apply on the day after exit as on the day before. It will then be for democratically elected representatives in the UK to decide on any changes to that law, after full scrutiny and proper debate.

This White Paper explains how we will legislate for this approach by introducing a Great Repeal Bill at the start of the next parliamentary session. This Bill will, wherever practical and appropriate, convert EU law into UK law from the day we leave so that we can make the right decisions in the national interest at a time that we choose.

The Great Repeal Bill is an important part of our plan to deliver a smooth and orderly Brexit that commands the confidence of all. The task ahead may be significant, but I am confident we can make it a success. This White Paper is an essential step along the way.

Rt Hon Theresa May MP

Prime Minister

Legislating for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union (pdf)

Theresa May now has the chance to reshape Britain

So, it’s a General Election. The Fixed Term Parliaments Act proved as impotent as its opponents had always said it would be. Roll on June 8. After the Scottish referendum of 2014, General Election of 2015, and EU referendum of 2016, this will be the fourth year in a row with an epochal vote for the UK.

One difference between this year’s vote and the other three is that there is no real doubt about the outcome. The only two questions are how massive Theresa May’s massive majority will be and how catastrophic Labour’s catastrophic defeat. In 1923, the Liberal Party won 158 seats — the last time it was a serious contender for government. Can Labour do better than that, and maintain the illusion, just a little longer, that it might one day recover?

Aside from Jeremy Corbyn’s personal haplessness, the three really big reasons the Conservatives will win big and Labour will be gutted are Scotland, Brexit and the economy.

Labour has never won an overall majority in a General Election without winning a majority in Scotland. Yet they only have one Scottish MP at present. And there’s every chance the Conservatives will get more. Under their dynamic leader Ruth Davidson, the Conservatives are now thoroughly established as the real opposition to the SNP.

The SNP will presumably put seeking a second Scottish independence referendum in their manifesto and claim a mandate. Will the Conservatives say there should be no referendum this coming Parliament? Or could they agree to a 2022 independence referendum, once Brexit is out of the way, drawing the SNP’s sting?

On Brexit, Labour remains appallingly split. A rump want to keep arguing for a second referendum. Others want to move on. For the Conservatives, Brexit means it will pick up votes from Ukip, now that party’s raison d’etre is gone. If you want Brexit, vote for the government that’s promising Brexit. What point is there in voting Ukip now?

The Conservatives may even pick up quite a few votes in northern England, where former Labour voters (some of whom may not have voted for several elections) have crossed the Rubicon by voting against Labour in the EU referendum and now might be harvested for the Conservatives.

On the economy, the Tories can claim their policies of the last seven years have been dully effective. We have very low unemployment. Growth has been steady if not spectacular. Things could have been a lot worse – for example if Jeremy Corbyn had been in charge.

And during the campaign, voters will be exposed to the full force of Corbyn’s deranged economic programme and philosophy. There will probably be a series of Tory election broadcasts that do little more than repeat Jeremy Corbyn’s own views in his own words. There’s no need for spin.

One useful thing an early General Election does is to get the Conservatives out of various of the daft election pledges made in 2015. We saw in the debacle of the 2017 Spring Budget how 2015 promises were making policy awkward.

What could go? Obviously they won’t want to continue with the pledges of no change to self-employed taxation or NI. They probably won’t want to pledge to ringfence spending on pensioner benefits any longer, either.

Other spending pledges to keep an eye out for might be commitments on international development and defence. The pledge for these might be combined in some way? Could they be really brave and refuse to pledge to ringfence NHS spending? If they are ever going to get rid of that absurd pledge, a can’t-lose election like this would be the time.

Connected to the above might be migration issues. Surely they can’t pledge to keep net migration to an average of below 100,000 over this parliament? Maybe some modified vague pledge such as promising, by the next election, to be getting net migration “down closer towards” 100,000? They might also promise to end free movement with the EU “by the end of this parliament”. That could allow up to three years of transitional arrangements, giving May some helpful wriggle room in the Brexit talks.

We can pretty much bank on May getting a majority greater than 100, perhaps north of 150. With no opposition worthy of the name, she will have full freedom to do whatever she likes domestically for the foreseeable future. Time for all those right-wing think-tanks to flaunt their wares. The UK could look a very different country by the time all this is done.

By

Get more from CapX

Why we need an election on June 8th

The Prime Minister has just announced that a General Election will be held on 8 June – and that we will shortly take the necessary steps in Parliament to ensure that this can happen.

  • We need this election now to secure the strong and stable leadership the country needs to see us through Brexit and beyond.
  • Every vote cast for Theresa May and the Conservatives will strengthen Britain’s hand in the Brexit negotiations.
  • We will stick to our Plan for a Stronger Britain and take the right long-term decisions for a more secure future.
  • The choice is between strong and stable leadership in the national interest with Theresa May and the Conservatives – or weak and unstable coalition government led by Jeremy Corbyn.
We need an election because:
It will strengthen the Prime Minister’s negotiating hand in Europe. Division in Westminster, and the Government’s small majority, risks weakening your Government’s hand in its negotiations with Europe.
It is the only way to ensure we have strong leadership, certainty and stability. An election now will give the country stability and certainty for a full five years, not just up to the point at which we leave the European Union but beyond it too.
And we do need an election now:
We have a one-off chance to hold an election while the European Union agrees its negotiating position and before the detailed talks begin. This decision cannot be delayed and needs to happen now. That is the only way to end the uncertainty the other parties are causing.
If we don’t have an election, we will have uncertainty and instability. The negotiations will reach their most difficult stage in the run-up to the next scheduled General Election. Division in Westminster will risk our ability to make a success of Brexit and cause uncertainty and instability.
We have the right plan for negotiating with Europe. The Government will negotiate a deep and special partnership between a strong and successful European Union and a United Kingdom that is free to chart its own way in the world. That means we will regain control of our own money, our own laws, and our own borders – and we will be free to strike trade deals with old friends and new partners all around the world. The result will be a more secure future for our country and a better deal for you.
But our plan is opposed by the other parties. The country is coming together, but Westminster is still divided. In recent weeks, Labour have threatened to vote against the final agreement we reach with the European Union. The Liberal Democrats have said they want to “grind” the business of government “to a standstill”. The Scottish National Party say they will vote against the legislation that formally repeals Britain’s membership of the European Union. And unelected members of the House of Lords have vowed to fight us every step of the way. All the other parties are doing is playing political games and causing uncertainty about the future.
We will stick to our Plan for a Stronger Britain. Only Theresa May has the plan and the proven leadership to deliver the right deal for Britain abroad and a better deal for ordinary, working people here at home.

We will stick to our Plan for a Stronger Britain and:

Establish Britain as the strongest country in Europe, in economic growth and national security. We will negotiate a deep and special partnership with our European neighbours. We will strike export deals for British goods and services. And we will lead the world in preventing terrorism and fighting modern slavery.
Build a stronger economy that rewards people who work hard and creates secure and well-paid jobs. We will make sure there is growth and prosperity around the whole country.
Provide real opportunity for all. We will give everyone a chance to get on in life, by building enough affordable housing and making sure there is a good school place for every child.
Build a more secure and united nation by taking action against the extremists who try to divide our society and standing up to the separatists who want to break up our country.
But we will also take the right long-term decisions for a more secure future. We will build on the good work we have done and stick to our Plan for a Stronger Britain. But, from the productivity of our economy to the need for a world-class system of social care, we will tackle head-on the long-term challenges we face as a country.
Theresa May is a strong leader who puts the national interest first and gets things done. When she became Prime Minister after the referendum, the priority was to provide economic certainty, a clear vision and strong leadership – and that’s what she delivered. She has also delivered on the mandate from the referendum, and begun the process through which Britain will leave the EU. Now she needs your support to lead Britain through the next five years and give the country the certainty and stability we all need.

You can only get the strong leadership the country needs by voting for Theresa May and your local Conservative candidate.
A vote for any other party risks Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister, propped up in coalition by Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP, and the Liberal Democrats who just want to re-open the divisions of the referendum.
The choice facing the country at this election is all about leadership. The choice in this election is strong and stable leadership in the national interest with Theresa May and the Conservatives – or weak and unstable coalition government, led by Jeremy Corbyn.

Patrick

Patrick McLoughlin 
Chairman of the Conservative Party

Reunifying Ireland: An EU law perspective

On 23 June 2016, Northern Ireland was one of the two UK constituent nations that voted to remain in the EU. Following that, Sinn Féin has called for a referendum for the unification of Ireland and thus for Northern Ireland to remain in the EU. This discussion has intensified after the most recent Northern Ireland Assembly election where the Unionist vote was significantly reduced.

Independently of whether such development is politically prudent and/or feasible, one has to note that, legally speaking, ‘Westminster has formally conceded that Northern Ireland can secede from the United Kingdom to join a united Ireland, if its people, and the people of the Irish Republic, voting separately, agree to this.’ Section 1 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 is a rare example of a provision of a constitutional statute that explicitly recognises the right of secession of a region (see also the Good Friday Agreement). According to Schedule 1 of the Northern Ireland Act, however, such a referendum can only be organised if ‘it appears likely to [the UK Secretary of State] that a majority of those voting would express a wish that Northern Ireland should cease to be part of the United Kingdom and form part of a united Ireland.’ Theresa Villiers, the former Northern Ireland Secretary has made clear that, according to her, ‘there is nothing to indicate that there is majority support for a poll.’

Still, if in the future, the majority of the people in Northern Ireland democratically decide to secede from the UK and join the Republic of Ireland, the EU legal order is able to accommodate such political development. The secession of Northern Ireland will not mean the creation of a new (Member-)State. Instead, it will trigger the territorial expansion of an EU Member State to which EU law already applies in accordance with Article 52 TEU. In a way, the reunification of Ireland could follow the precedent of the German reunification where the application of the acquis was extended to East Germany without an amendment of the primary legislation. The difference is that, in the case of Germany, the EU acquis did not apply at all in the East before the reunification, something that is very different with the situation in Northern Ireland.

However, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has asked recently for a special provision in any Brexit deal to allow Northern Ireland to rejoin the EU should it be united with the Republic. He did so, notwithstanding the fact that a special deal for Northern Ireland is the declared goal of the UK government.

So, the question is how could such a provision look like?

Obviously, there are not many EU law provisions that regulate the (re)unification of (Member-)States. The closest example is Article 4 of Protocol No 10 on Cyprus of the Act of Accession 2003. Protocol No 10 provides the terms for the application of EU law in Cyprus given that the island had not been unified at the moment it joined the EU. In particular, it provides for the suspension of the application of the acquis in northern Cyprus, a suspension which shall be lifted in the event of a solution.

If such solution occurs in the future, Article 4 provides for a simplified procedure that enables the Union to accommodate the terms of the reunification plan. In particular, Article 4 allows the EU, by a unanimous Council Decision at a future date and in the event of reunification, to alter the terms of Cyprus’ EU accession that are contained in the Act of Accession 2003. In other words, it allows the Council to amend primary law (ie Act of Accession 2003) with a unanimous decision.

This might sound like a heresy. However, the Treaties foresee special procedures for their amendment in some cases. The best example, for the purposes of this post, is the Council decision on the basis of Article 2(2) of the 1994 Accession Treaty which adjusted the instruments of accession after Norway’s failure to ratify. Several Articles of this Accession Treaty and of the Act of Accession were amended by a Council decision while other provisions were declared to have lapsed. Thus, in that case, the Council, itself, amended primary law in a simplified procedure without any ratification of the Member States.

To the extent that the ‘Brexit’ Agreement will be considered as part of primary law, a similar provision regulating the reunification of Ireland could be included and could assist the smooth transitioning of Northern Ireland back to the EU. Of course, the question of the reunification of Ireland –as many other questions related to Brexit- is first and foremost political. It is important to point out, however, that EU law is flexible enough to accommodate such political developments.

Barnard & Peers: chapter 27

source