Brexit: what will change on 31 October?
Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay signs legislation to stop EU law from applying in UK from deadline day
The UK Government has enacted legislation that will stop EU law from applying in Britain after 31 October, in an attempt to ensure that Brexit happens by the current deadline.
According to Sky News, Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay today “rubber-stamped the move to repeal the European Communities Act”, which automatically transfers laws made in Brussels into UK statute.
During the signing, Barclay said the legislation sent a “clear signal to the people of this country that there is no turning back”, coming just weeks after Prime Minister Boris Johnson began assuring media and the public alike that Brexit will take place on 31 October “whatever the circumstances”.
“The legal default, as put in place by parliament, is that the UK will leave on 31 October, with or without a deal,” he told a media briefing earlier in the month.
But if Johnson’s promises become a reality, what will happen on Brexit day?
What does today’s legislation mean?
Barclay’s newest legislation paints a picture of how the UK might distance itself from the EU in October.
The document signed this week facilitates the repeal of the 1972 Brussels Act, which the Government describes as “the vehicle that sees regulations flow into UK law directly from the EU’s lawmaking bodies in Brussels”.
“The announcement of the Act’s repeal marks a historic step in returning lawmaking powers from Brussels to the UK,” the Government’s online portal says. “We are taking back control of our laws, as the public voted for in 2016.”
After signing the document, Barclay said: “We are leaving the EU as promised on 31 October, whatever the circumstances – delivering on the instructions given to us in 2016.”
But Mark Elliott, a professor of public law and chair of the faculty of law at the University of Cambridge, told The New European that the announcement was “at best, misleading”, claiming that the “exit date” in law still could be changed or cancelled altogether.
“It does not prevent the UK government from seeking an Article 50 extension. It does not prevent parliament from legislating to require the UK Government to seek an Article 50 extension. It does not prevent the European Council from granting an extension if the UK government asks for one, whether of its own volition or at parliament's insistence. And it does not prevent Parliament, if it so wishes, from legislating to revoke the UK's notification under Article 50, thereby stopping the Brexit process in its tracks.”
What else might happen on Brexit day?
Many of the promises and predictions made about what might happen on the day that the UK leaves the EU are dependent on whether or not Johnson crashes the country out without a deal or not.
The Independent reports that, should the UK fail to secure a deal with the EU, travellers will be the “first to feel the bump” as “all flights to mainland Europe [are] cancelled”. This is because the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules which the UK will fall back on do not cover aviation and “no aircraft is permitted to fly between the UK and EU airports until a new bilateral agreement on flights is reached”.
The BBC adds that a no-deal exit would cause “significant disruption to businesses in the short-term, with lengthy tailbacks of lorries at the Channel ports, as drivers face new checks on their cargos”.
But while inadvertent chaos may take hold of Britain’s infrastructure in the wake of Brexit, some lawmakers appear eager to use the event to make sweeping changes that would likely struggle to pass Parliament in normal circumstances.
Politics Home reports that the country’s new Home Secretary Priti Patel “wants border restrictions to be imposed immediately” after Brexit by bringing the EU’s freedom of movement to an end on 31 October.
The news site adds that the move would “represent a major shift from the position of her predecessor, Sajid Javid, who had held back the government bill that would have brought free movement to an end amid fears of a Commons defeat”.