The Times, 24th March 2017, reported that additional necessary legislation has been identified.
Brexit faces fresh hurdles, leaked Whitehall papers reveal
Parliament will need to pass at least seven controversial bills to prepare Britain for life outside the European Union, according to a leaked list of legislation prepared by Whitehall.
Each new law, covering immigration, tax, agriculture, trade and customs regimes, fisheries, data protection and sanctions, will give MPs and peers the chance to influence the terms of Brexit. It will raise concerns in government that bills could be amended or blocked during what is already a tight two-year timetable.
Last night MPs and Lords were on course to clear the way for Theresa May to begin negotiating the terms of Brexit by backing the government’s Article 50 bill. The prime minister is expected to trigger Article 50 in the last week of this month, beginning the formal two-year process for leaving the EU. The announcement had been expected as soon as today.
The Times has learnt that Mrs May faces a further testing legislative programme. Documents presented to ministers show that seven separate bills must be passed to set out Britain’s future after Brexit.
A further six bills may also be necessary, covering EU migrant benefits, reciprocal healthcare arrangements, road freight, nuclear safeguards, emissions trading and the transfer of spending from various EU funds to individual government departments.
Each could provoke divisions in the Conservative party, with migration and agriculture expected to be the most inflammatory.
These bills must be passed alongside a single “great repeal bill” — legislation to revoke the European Communities Act 1972 and incorporate EU law into domestic law wherever possible. Overseen by David Davis, the Brexit secretary, this is expected in the Queen’s Speech in May.
Government departments have requested standalone legislation for at least seven areas because they believe that some changes mark a substantial shift from the status quo and cannot be wrapped in with the thousands of changes under the great repeal bill.
Downing Street is understood to be concerned about the number of Brexit bills requested. Two senior sources said that No 10 was trying to convince some departments to make reductions, with “a lot of to and fro” on the issue.
The list of legislation, which is understood to have been seen by the Brexit cabinet committee, will pose a challenge for Tory whips dealing with a government majority of 17. Its progress is likely to be trickier than the Article 50 legislation that completed its passage through parliament last night.
The need for legislation means that huge areas of policy will be dragged into the Brexit debate, including the strength of sanctions on Russia and whether to reform EU data protection laws that were opposed by Britain.
The legislation is likely to inflame the Scottish and Welsh governments since it could return some powers over agriculture and fisheries to Westminster.
A government source said: “There is a degree of pushback about [the length of the list]. The list is still accurate, but efforts are being made to see what can be done to adopt the current position and replicate EU structures in Britain."
Most of the bills must be in place by the time the Brexit process is complete, which is expected in March 2019.