Brexit: May to introduce EU repeal bill in Queen's Speech

Theresa May has said she is to introduce a "Great Repeal Bill" in the next Queen's Speech which will overturn the act which took the UK into the EU.

It will remove the European Communities Act 1972 from the statute book and end the supremacy in Britain of EU law.

The government will also enshrine all existing EU law into British law and anything deemed unnecessary will be abolished later.

Her pledge comes as the Conservatives gather for their annual conference.

The repeal of the 1972 Act will not take effect until the UK leaves the EU under the process for quitting the bloc known as Article 50.

Mrs May has previously said she will not start the formal process of leaving the EU until next year.


'Simple approach'

In an interview with the Sunday Times, the prime minister said the repeal bill would mark "the first stage in the UK becoming a sovereign and independent country once again".

"It will return power and authority to the elected institutions of our country," she said.

"It means that the authority of EU law in Britain will end."

Mrs May has also made clear she does not want the conference to be dominated by the issue of leaving the EU.

Tory MPs are divided between favouring a "hard Brexit" outside the European single market to obtain complete control over immigration, or remaining in the free trade zone, but potentially having to comply with some EU rules.

"I'm clear that we are not going to be completely consumed by Brexit," Mrs Maytold the Sun on Sunday.

"What I want to deliver is real change. To build a country that works for everyone."


Workers' rights

Labour MP Phil Wilson, from the Open Britain campaign, said businesses want the prime minister to commit to single market membership.

"We still know nothing about the government's plans for our new relationship with the EU, whether over trade, security or migration," he said.

"As car manufacturers have made clear, it is essential that the UK remains a member of the single market to protect investment and jobs."


European Communities Act 1972

  • In 1972 the UK Parliament passed the European Communities Act
  • It gave direct effect to EU law, so if there is a conflict between an act of the UK Parliament and EU law, Westminster loses out and EU law prevails
  • The European Court of Justice (ECJ) became a kind of Supreme Court of Europe, interpreting EU law with judgements that were binding on all member states


Did the UK lose its sovereignty in 1972?

Elsewhere, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis will tell the Conservative Party conference on Sunday that employment rights "will not be eroded" on exiting the EU.

He will dismiss any suggestion that the government intends to use Brexit to roll back workers' rights and will say that UK law goes further than the minimum standards offered under EU law, such as for annual and parental leave.

Mr Davis will say: "To those who are trying to frighten British workers, saying 'when we leave, employment rights will be eroded', I say firmly and unequivocally 'no they won't'."

He will also say: "The moment we leave, Britain must be back in control.

"And that means EU law must cease to apply.

"To ensure continuity, we will take a simple approach. EU law will be transposed into domestic law, wherever practical, on exit day.

"It will be for elected politicians here to make the changes to reflect the outcome of our negotiation and our exit."

The repeal bill will also end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK.