In June of 2016, voters cast their ballots on whether or not the United Kingdom should leave the European Union. In a 51.9% to 48.1% vote, the exit won after a turnout of 71.8%.
On March 29, Article 50 was triggered. Part of the Treaty of Lisbon, Article 50 is the plan for any country that wishes to leave the EU. The article spells out that any member of the EU may decide to leave after notifying the European Council. It allows for two years to reach an agreement with the European Union.
The parliament is now preparing to replace all EU laws. The government plans to enact the Great Repeal Bill, published March 30, which will end the primacy of EU law in the UK. It repeals the 1972 European Communities Act that allowed European law to take precedence over laws passed by the British Parliament.
Proponents of the referendum say the Great Repeal Bill would allow the UK Parliament, along with the Welsh, Scottish, and Northern Ireland administrations, to get rid of and change unfavorable laws.
The bill is expected to incorporate all EU legislation into UK law, of which the government will decide which parts to keep over time. This will allow for a smooth transition for when the UK officially leaves in 2019.
Prime Minister, Theresa May, says the bill will make the UK an independent and sovereign nation. The Commons library says this will be one of the biggest legislative projects ever undertaken in the UK.
These changes were called a “unique challenge” by a House of Lords committee, because the the body of the EU law can be found in different places in many different forms.
There are more than 12,000 EU laws in force in the UK that will transfer over, but the government says many of the regulations will not work properly after the Brexit without some changes. Simply transferring the laws over will not be enough.
There are roughly 800 to 1,000 measures that will need to change. It is proposed that many of these laws be passed using statutory instruments, or laws passed without much debate or scrutiny. This is one of the more controversial features of the bill.
The Labour party’s Brexit Secretary, Sir Keir Starmer, says ministers were being handed the power to make hasty legislation without much thought. However, officials say any laws changed in that manner will be time-limited, and any problems will be fixed.
More complications can arise during parliament’s negotiations with the EU, which will take place while the bill is passing. The discussions can help shape what the new UK laws will look like, but the Great Repeal Bill will need to be put into action the day the UK officially leaves.
Many support Brexit, saying it is a way to take back control of the laws in the country. Even Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the party respected the decision. He says the next step is for the PM to unite the country, as she claims she plans to do.
Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, however, does not share the sentiment. He believes the prime minister is “twisting the will of the people, leaping into the abyss without any idea of where our country will end up.” He says she has chosen the hardest form of Brexit.
Members of the EU, such as European Council President Donald Tusk, European Parliament Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are unhappy to see the UK leave.
Merkel says, “We, Germany, but also Britain’s other partners in the EU, certainly didn’t want this day to come, because we’re losing a strong and important member state. But, naturally, we accept the democratic decision of the British voters. And with the triggering of Article 50, we now have greater clarity about how the British side envisages the way ahead, and which goals Britain wants to pursue in the negotiations.”
BBC has put together a timeline of the planned events for the Great Repeal Bill: