As we have reported previously, the result of the European Union referendum (Brexit) was announced on 24 June 2016 with a vote in favour of the United Kingdom exiting.
We have issued a series of Brexit updates since the date of the referendum. To access such prior alerts, please visit our Brexit page.
UK Parliament Approves EU Withdrawal Bill
Following a period of 12 months since the EU Withdrawal Bill (the “Bill”) was first introduced to the House of Commons, Parliament has finally approved the Bill on 20 June 2018 which will repeal the European Communities Act 1972 on the day the UK leaves the EU, thus ending the supremacy of EU law in the UK.
British Prime Minister Theresa May described Parliament’s approval of the Bill as an “important step in delivering the Brexit people voted for, a Brexit that gives Britain a brighter future, a Britain in control of its money, laws, and borders”.
The approval of the Bill follows intense Parliamentary debate concerning whether Parliament will be consulted if no exit agreement is reached with the EU. Rebel Tory MPs sought to amend the Bill to give MPs a say in deciding how the Government will proceed if no deal is reached with the EU by 21 January 2019, jeopardising the approval of the Bill in light of the Government’s slim Parliamentary majority. However, enough of the rebels were appeased by the promise from the Government that the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, will be given the right to decide whether MPs are given a “meaningful vote” in the event that no exit agreement is reached.
Now that the Bill has been approved by Parliament, it will pass into law in the coming weeks when it is given Royal Assent; a process that does not involve any further debate.
The Bill is the first of a number of bills required to be approved by Parliament in order to ensure an orderly UK exit from the EU. Other bills to be approved include the Customs Bill, which will legislate for the UK’s future customs, VAT and excise regimes outside of the EU, and the Trade Bill, which is designed to provide trading continuity for individuals, businesses and international trading partners.
Key Terms of the EU Withdrawal Bill
- the European Communities Act 1972 will be made null and void;
- EU law as it stands at the moment the UK exits the EU will be converted into domestic law (there are currently more than 12,000 EU regulations in force);
- temporary powers (commonly referred to as Henry VIII clauses) will be created to make secondary legislation to enable corrections to be made to laws that would otherwise no longer work once the UK has left the EU (these powers will be exempt from the time-consuming Parliamentary approval process);
- the establishment of new border arrangements that did not exist before the UK’s exit from the EU for Northern Ireland (including physical infrastructure, border posts or checks and controls) will be prevented, unless agreed between the UK Government and the Government of Ireland; and
- the UK will not be prevented from replicating EU law made after the UK’s exit from the EU in UK law and from continuing to participate in EU agencies.
In the blur of mega firms, Brown Rudnick stands out as a “global boutique” and has in place a multi-disciplinary, international Brexit Team. We are monitoring and analysing the consequences and considerations for businesses and are ready to advise on the potential legal implications of Brexit. The Brown Rudnick Brexit Team is available to advise on the issues across a broad range of sectors within our areas of expertise.
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