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Updated Jan 18, 2023

Retained EU Law Bill continues Parliamentary journey

The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill continues on its journey through the House of Commons on 18 January when it reaches the report stage. During this stage, opportunity is given to the entire House to consider any changes or progress that has been made on the Bill during the previous stage - which is the longer committee stage.

The Bill was introduced by Jacob Rees-Mogg whilst he was briefly the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy under Liz Truss. It aims to scrap all EU laws that the UK retained when it withdrew from the EU, as well as any UK laws that were created to implement Directives, on 31 December 2023. Given the wording of the Bill, these laws can only be saved if they are expressly saved by Ministers.

However, it is believed that this controversial Bill had divided opinion in the Commons, and not just simply between Parties.

Labour wants to push the 31 December 2023 deadline back to 2026. This will allow the Ministers and Departments more time to consider which laws need to be saved. Time will be important, to allow Ministers to fully understand the consequences of simply scrapping the law, especially considering there are over 2,400 laws that could, in theory, just disappear overnight on the deadline set by the Bill. Official estimates state that removing or replacing EU laws by the December deadline will require the creation of 1,000 new laws. This will put an enormous strain on Departments.

At the same time, the Bill does not allow the Commons to scrutinise which laws will be scrapped. Tory backbenchers, including former Brexit Secretary David Davis, are calling for MPs to have more say in this so that Parliament has more control over which laws will be revoked.

Following the report stage, the Bill will have a third reading during which MPs will vote to pass or reject the Bill. Then it will go to the House of Lords for scrutiny, where it is believed the Bill will face some significant opposition.