“Repatriation” of EU law into UK law – what does it mean?

Although the proposal to “Repatriate” EU law into UK law has been made both by the hardest of Brexiteers and by the Prime Minister, many independence campaigners are still distinctly uneasy at the idea that large parts of the “Acquis Communautaire” being incorporated onto our statute books as Britiish legislation, for later amendment,  replacement or repeal if thought desirable.

Perhaps this note will help to explain the reason why this is necessary and dispel unfounded fears.

We are in a similar position to the newly-independent Parliament of the Irish Free State in 1922 when it enacted its constitution. Although the situation of  the United Kingdom government and Parliament vis a vis the institutions of the EU is by no means identical to that of the Irish Parliament of 1922 to the British government of the day, there is sufficient similarity in the situation, as a Great Repeal Bill is promised and its wording will be scrutinised.

With regard to the “nationalisation” of EU laws to the British statute book, Act No.2  of 1922 in the newly independent Irish parliament adopted all the laws from the Westminster Parliament to be effective in the Irish Free State and enforced by its institutions. To have done anything less would have left an impossible legal vacuum.

A similar thing would happen here on a lesser but significant scale, if (as some suggest) we simply repeal the European Communities Act 1972 and abrogate the treaties.

Amongst other things, there would be no laws at all to protect food safety and no legal basis for the Customs and Excise.  These both presently  stem from regulations made in Brussels, not Act of Parliament and would instantly cease to exist if the U.K. simply “walked away” from its treaty obligations and repealed the European Communities Act 1972.

We do have time during the two-year negotiating period of Article 50 to highlight some legislation to exclude from the “nationalisation” of EU law, in particular fisheries, where there is no need to pursue a shadow version of the disastrous Common Fisheries Policy. Unlike, for example, food safety or bathing water standards, where we would have no laws at all if we did not incorporate the acquis into UK law, we are in a different position with fisheries. Making an exception gives us complete control over our national waters and than chance to bring in a much better  fisheries management system.  Similar considerations apply with agriculture.

See also the attachment A Time Like Never Before from our last CIB members’ newsletter. The Prime Minister has decisively rejected any harebrained scheme to renege on treaty agreements and also promised a Bill to repeal the European Communities Act 1972  when the agreed settlement is in place. We will then finally be out of the EU which, after all, is our main objective. The tidying up can come later!

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  1. Francis Adrian AndrewReply

    Why not simply repeal the 1972 European Communities Act, automatically incorporate EU law into British law and then do with it as we please and how we see fit?

  2. Edward SpaltonReply

    Hello Francis and Anonymous Ukipper,

    I f you go back and click on “articles” , then go back to

    23 Sept ” Container Inspection at Port of Entry” ( the video link may have expired but the article is still comprehensible) and

    21 Sept ” Europhiles for a Sovereign Parliament” ,
    you will get some idea of the complexities which have to be negotiated, if we are to have a
    smooth, seamless exit with no disruption of trade. It can be achieved but it is not automatic.

    Having been opposed to the EU since the Seventies, I don’t want to see a cock-up.
    I am much more wary of incompetence by our lot than the evil machinations of the EU.

  3. OzzyReply

    The way the Parliament is constituted at thgis monent of time with Labour and SNP to try and repeal the European Act 1972 will be impossible they are all for remain.

    Then you have the Torie back benchers.
    Two opitions
    #1. use article 50 and play it out for two years and hope Labvour or SNP are not in power , because it was not on their mandaite and will reverse it …they said they will

    #2. Wait it out with luck that number one above doesn’t happen and the Tories are in to finish the job.

    #3 VOTE UKIP and get a UKIP government in in which the European Act 1972 will be first to repal and the Payments to the EU will stop saving £55mn a day.
    The 1972 Act is the only binding piece that says we are in the EU, It also puts Britain in the driving seat and Not the other way round with Article 50

  4. John AshworthReply

    Ozzy, you raise several points. If Parliament refuses to repeal the EC1972Act after Parliamentarians voted for the Referendum Bill agreeing they would respect the verdict, I think the vote was 6 to 1 , those that voted against the repeal would look stupid, and ignoring the electorate.

    It is the Treaty of Accession that binds us to the EU (See Part 6 of Fisheries), the EC1972Act is the means by which EU legislation flows into the UK, and gives EU supremacy over UK law.

    Article 50, once invoked, there is no turning back. Whether or not things are in place for exit or not, exit day the treaties cease to apply.

  5. Edward SpaltonReply

    The Conservatives have a small majority. To this may be added the DUP MPs and the small, gallant band of Labour Brexiteers.

    We are stuck with a fixed term parliament which has another three and a half years to run. To overturn that requires a two thirds majority of MPs. It is very doubtful that Labour MPs would
    want to vote themselves out of their salaries and perks to face possible deselection by the Corbynistas, followed by an election with the polls so adverse to them. The other way to get an early election is by a vote of no confidence in the government – something which would require a mutiny by Conservative MPs.
    Any who took part in that would certainly be deselected and not allowed back into the party. So that is most unlikely.

    So the only practicable way out of the EU in the next three and a half years is by this government. Actually the getting out is easy enough. It is the negotiation of a mutually satisfactory new relationship with our biggest export market which is critical. That is not automatic. If it is botched it will do to independence what the ill fated Conservative venture into the Exchange Rate Mechansim did for John Major’s government. The resulting sky-high interest rates, destruction of businesses and jobs, repossession of homes etc destroyed the Conservatives’ reputation for financial competence and resulted in the age of Blair.

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