Brexit/Great Repeal Bill

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The name of the Bill

When the Bill is published, its short title will be different because "value-laden terms such as 'great' are not permitted".[1]

Objectives of the Great Repeal Bill

  • Repeal the European Communities Act (1972) on the day the UK leaves the EU;
  • Copy up to 20,000 pieces of European Union Law onto the UK statute book.[2]
    • convert directly-applicable EU regulations into UK law;
    • preserve all the UK laws that implement EU obligations;
    • the individual rights based on iEU treaties, which are relied on directly in court, will continue to be available;
    • historic EU case law will be given the same binding status in UK courts as Supreme Court decisions.
    • the general supremacy of EU law will end;[3]:ch.2
  • Create powers to make secondary legislation under Statutory Instrument procedures.[3]:ch.3


A March 2017 report by Thomson Reuters identified 52,741 pieces of legislation passed since 1990. Transferring EU Law into UK Law would be the quickest way to ensure continuity.[4]

The Great Repeal Bill is a proposed law that will incorporate European Union Law directly into United Kingdom Law as part of exit from the European Union. In October 2016, Theresa May proposed a "Great Repeal Bill", which would repeal the European Communities Act 1972 and restate into UK Law all enactments previously in force under EU Law.

This Bill will probably be introduced after the June 2017 General Election and will be passed before or during the Article 50 negotiations. It would come into force on the date of the exit, which will probably be in March 2019. It would smooth the transition by ensuring that all laws remain in force until specifically repealed.[5] The Bill has been put forward as a major vehicle for Parliamentary involvement, including as a possible alternative to a vote on a final deal.[6]


The Bill is likely to cause constitutional issues for the devolution settlements in the smaller UK countries. The Scottish Government approach is that the Bill would require consent from the Scottish Parliament, as it will legislate on Scottish matters.[7] The Scotland Act 1998 requires that any legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament has to comply with EU Law. Westminster will need to alter this aspect of the Scotland Act – though whether the UK Government will follow convention to gain legislative consent from the Scottish Parliament (for changes to that Act) remains to be seen.

In devolved administrations, the powers currently exercised by the EU in relation to common policy frameworks will return to the UK, allowing the rules to be set by democratically-elected representatives. Ministers of devolved administrations will be given the power to amend devolved legislation to correct law that will not operate appropriately following Brexit.[3]:ch.4


  1. Walker, P.; Stewart, H. (30 March 2017). "'Great repeal bill' will create sweeping powers to change laws for Brexit". The Guardian.
  2. "Brexit: Government to set out plans to end dominance of EU law". Sky News. 30 March 2017.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Legislating for the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union" (PDF). Department for Exiting the European Union. 30 March 2017.
  4. "Brexit live: PM told divorce first then trade 10:17". Sky News. 30 March 2017.
  5. Mason, R. (2 October 2016). "Theresa May's 'great repeal bill': what's going to happen and when?". The Guardian.
  6. Asthana, A. (20 December 2016). "Theresa May indicates MPs will not be given vote on final Brexit deal". The Guardian.
  7. "UK and Scotland on course for great 'constitutional bust-up'". BBC. 3 October 2016.