Cross-party MPs launch fightback against bill to tear up 4,000 EU laws

Amendment seeks to give MPs not ministers the power to decide which Brussels-derived laws are abolished

A cross-party group of MPs including Labour’s Stella Creasy and the Conservative former Brexit secretary David Davis are launching an attempt to rein in the EU retained law bill that threatens to let ministers abolish 4,000 laws derived from Brussels at the end of this year.

Creasy and Davis have put their names to an amendment that would give MPs, rather than ministers, the power to decide which laws are retained.

The MPs are leading the attempted rebellion amid fears that ministers will have carte blanche to rewrite the law on employment protection, environmental regulations and many others when they decide how to replace the EU-derived laws that will be scrapped.

Conservative MPs backing the amendment include Davis, a leading Brexiter, Robert Buckland, a former justice secretary, Dan Poulter, a former health minister, and Caroline Nokes, chair of the women and equalities committee. Other MPs include Hilary Benn, the Labour MP and former shadow Brexit secretary, Sarah Olney of the Lib Dems and Brendan O’Hara of the Scottish National party.

As a first step, the proposed amendment would require ministers to set out exactly what laws they are planning to delete. After that, MPs would be given the power to remove laws from the list proposed for revocation.

Current laws due to be deleted cover every aspect of life in the UK including compensation for delayed trains or flights, the right to paid annual leave, equal pay and bank holidays, rules governing the use of cancer-causing chemicals in cosmetics, minimum standards to ensure planes are safe to fly, requirements for parental leave and pay, disease control for bird flu, and pension protection when a company goes bust.

Many opposition amendments to the bill were defeated in the autumn, but the legislation is due back in the House of Commons on Wednesday for a further stage.

The dashboard of laws expected to be deleted is not complete, even though the deadline is the end of 2023.

Creasy, who is leading the amendment and is chair of the Labour Movement for Europe, said: “If this bill goes through it will drive a coach and horses through parliamentary sovereignty – something we were told would be improved by Brexit. It gives ministers, not MPs, the control of very thousands of laws that cover everyday life – when my constituents come to me asking whether they will have maternity rights, or clean water to drink, or even the right to paid holiday in a year’s time, I want to be able to tell them that that decision will rest with MPs, not ministers and civil servants.”

She added: “Whether you voted leave or remain in 2016, now MPs need to vote to take back control to parliament, rather than surrendering it wholesale to ministers. The government need to come clean on exactly which laws this bill covers so that MPs can make up their minds whether it is a good idea to give them wholesale control over these laws – the fightback for our democracy starts here.”

Experts have warned that the UK faces disaster if the government pushes ahead with its current plans, given how little scrutiny they have been given. It emerged in November that ministers had discovered that 1,400 more pieces of legislation would be affected, rather than 2,400 as originally estimated.


Rowena Mason Whitehall editor

The GuardianTramp

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