Brexit: Opposition promises to create 'hell' as Government publishes Bill to repeal EU law

The Government is suffering a backlash from opposition parties who have promised to create "hell" after publishing its Brexit Repeal Bill which sees decades of EU legislation turned into UK law.

The first battle lines have already been drawn over the Bill as the Government confirmed it would not incorporate the European Charter of Fundamental Rights into British law.

The Bill is designed to transfer EU law into British law so the same rules apply before and after Brexit, while giving parliaments and assemblies in Westminster, Edinburgh, Belfast and Cardiff the power to drop or change them in the future.

Outgoing Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has warned ministers they face "hell" as they try to get the Bill through the Houses of Commons and Lords, and warned of a "political nightmare" that could cost Theresa May her job as Prime Minister.

While Labour has said it will vote against the major legislation unless it contains a provision to put the charter into UK law but the Bill, published on Thursday, confirms it will be ditched.

It is the first of many fierce battlegrounds on the legislation, formally titled the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.

The Bill repeals the 1972 European Communities Act which took Britain into the EU.

Theresa May and Brexit Secretary David Davis have already called on parties to work together to ensure the crucial Bill's passage through Parliament, widely interpreted as an acknowledgement of the difficulties their minority Government faces.

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer has made clear Labour would not support the Bill in its current form.

He demanded concessions in six areas, including incorporating the charter into UK law, ensuring workers' rights in the UK do not fall behind those in the EU, and limiting the scope of so-called "Henry VIII powers", which could allow the Government to alter legislation without full parliamentary scrutiny.

While the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales, Nicola Sturgeon and Carwyn Jones, said they would not grant the required legislative consent to the Bill as it stands, describing it as a "naked power grab" because it does not immediately return EU powers to devolved administrations.

However, it is not only the opposition parties who are against the Bill, with Mr Davis being forced to dismiss talk of a Cabinet clash over how to handle the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

Asked if there was disagreement among senior ministers after Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said there was "no plan for no deal", Mr Davis said he was working on arrangements for all outcomes of Brexit negotiations, insisting it was not "a clash. I wasn't there when the Foreign Secretary said what he said."

Pressed on why Mr Johnson seemed unaware of the plans, the Brexit Secretary said: "You'll have to ask him."

Tory rebels could also force the Government to change the legislation when it gets its second reading in the Commons in the autumn.

It is understood ministers believe the rights in the charter are already contained in EU rules which the legislation will convert into domestic law on the day of Brexit.

  • Investigation after Bill appears online

Meanwhile an investigation has been ordered after the Brexit Repeal Bill appeared online before it was presented to the House of Commons.

Labour former minister Chris Bryant said it was a "complete breach" of the written rules which regulate proceedings in Parliament.

Deputy Speaker Eleanor Laing told the Commons: "This should not have happened and I can assure (Mr Bryant) and the House that an investigation is currently under way in to this most regrettable matter."