Legislation enabling existing EU law to be transferred onto the UK statute book has finally received Royal Assent.
That means that, after some 250 hours of debate by members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, and the tabling of over 1400 amendments to the original text, the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill has finally become an Act of Parliament.
Describing it as “a landmark moment in our preparations for leaving the European Union,” the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, David Davis, said that the Act is a vital piece of legislation “that will ensure we have a functioning statute book for exit”.
Work is to start in the coming weeks on using the powers in the Act to lay relevant secondary legislation before Parliament, with the expectation being that some 800 separate items will be needed.
Starting that work will, Mr Davis reassured everyone, “ensure we are ready for any scenario, giving people and businesses the certainty they need”.
An early casualty of the new legislation seems set to be the European Union Act 2011, which the Government has said it intends to repeal using its new powers. The European Communities Act 1972 will be repealed on the day that the UK leaves the Union.
In addition to the hundreds of items of secondary legislation that will be introduced, Government Departments are expected to publish a further (far smaller) package of Bills intended to enable more significant Brexit-related policy changes to be introduced.
The full text of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (“An Act to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 and make other provision in connection with the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU”) can be found at https://bit.ly/2yNBRaJ.