Theresa May to keep UK under EU law until end of transition
Prime minister risks Brexiteer ire as she takes personal command of negotiations
Theresa May has risked provoking the fury of Brexiteers after announcing plans to keep the UK under some EU laws until the end of the transition period.
It means the 1972 European Communities Act, the primary legislation which took the UK into the EU, will now not be fully repealed until the end of 2020, 21 months after the UK formally leaves the bloc in March next year.
Sky News revealed ministers will scrap the ECA but “save” its “effect” for the transition period – putting the prime minister on “collision course” with pro-Brexit MPs.
Addressing Parliament on the final day before the summer recess, the new Brexit Secretary, Dominic Raab, told MPs it was necessary to keep “some parts” of the existing legislation to “ensure the statute book functions properly... in accordance with the agreement we have made with the EU”.
The Independent says “it is certain to provoke protests that the UK has not really left the EU next year” and enrage pro-Brexit MPs who had been promised the 1972 act would be scrapped in March 2019.
With Britain stripped of its MEPs and EU commissioners while remaining under the Brussels rulebook it also raises the possibility of a legal challenge.
It could also trigger louder calls for the Article 50 period to be extended, beyond next March, “as a more straightforward mechanism for the reality of transition”, says the Independent.
Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer, was quick to suggest that “large parts” of the ECA would, in fact, be retained, including the continued jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.
He said it was also clear that the EU Withdrawal Act, the government’s primary piece of Brexit legislation that passed into law earlier this month, “will need major surgery,” adding that the 29 March Brexit day was a “gimmick” which had come “unstuck”.
It came as Theresa May announced she would be taking personal control of the remaining Brexit negotiations, with Raab deputising, in what the Daily Express describes as a “major snub” to the new Brexit secretary.
The prime minister and several of her senior ministers are set to spent the summer travelling around the UK and Europe, in the hope of selling her Brexit plan to EU leaders and the British people.