The Queen's Speech and Brexit

The various Brexit bills contained little in the way of surprises and, in some cases, relatively little in the way of detail. The Queen’s Speech will now be debated by Parliament and significant opposition and amendments may be expected, not least in the light of the Prime Minister’s failure to secure an overall majority in the recent General Election.

Brexit Bills

The Repeal Bill (now downgraded from its previous status as the ‘Great Repeal Bill’, although this is more a question of parliamentary etiquette than any indication of governmental modesty) is designed to ensure continuity of laws and regulations after Brexit in order to provide as much legal certainty as may be possible.

The Bill will:

  • repeal the European Communities Act 1972, removing the supremacy of EU law in the UK;
  • convert current EU law into UK law;
  • allow Parliament to pass secondary legislation to correct specific legislative issues created by the process of Brexit;
  • replicate certain frameworks created by EU law such as powers devolved to Scotland and Wales.

The Customs Bill will put in place UK standalone customs and indirect taxes (such as VAT) after Brexit, whatever the outcome of negotiations with the EU. In the immediate short term, business will see almost no change from the current regimes.

The Trade Bill will establish a framework for an independent UK trade policy. The Government has not given much further detail at the moment.

The Immigration Bill will establish an immigration policy, especially in respect of immigration from the European Economic Area (EEA).

The Agriculture Bill will replace the Common Agricultural Policy to support UK farmers and protect the environment.

The Fisheries Bill will implement a national policy to replace the Common Fisheries Policy, including setting quotas, and controlling access to UK fisheries and management of UK territorial waters.

The Nuclear Safeguards Bill will replace the current nuclear safety regime imposed by the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom).

The International Sanctions Bill will allow the UK to continue to impose and implement sanctions against foreign regimes, either unilaterally or in concert with other countries.

The Data Protection Bill, although not technically included in the ‘Brexit’ section of the Queen's Speech, will implement the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) thus confirming the generally held position that businesses should now be taking active steps to ensure compliance with the GDPR even though this will cease to apply directly post-Brexit.

For more information about the possible consequences of Brexit for both UK and international business – including a downloadable legal review service which identifies issues that might arise from the UK’s exit from the EU – please visit the ‘Business of Brexit’ section of our website, or contact Graeme Fearon and Kate Westbrook from our Brexit team.

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