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May to enshrine EU regulations in law

Press AssociationPress Association 1/10/2016

Prime Minister Theresa May will unveil plans to enshrine all European Union regulations that apply to Britain in domestic law when the country leaves the bloc at her first Conservative Party conference.

She will tell Tories in Birmingham that a Great Repeal Bill will scrap the 1972 European Communities Act, which gives direct effect to all EU law, and at the same time convert Brussels regulations into domestic law.

This will give parliament the power to unpick the laws it wants to keep, remove or amend at a later date, in a move that could be welcomed by MPs keen to have a say over the terms of Brexit.

The move is also designed to give certainty to businesses and protection for workers' rights that are part of EU law.

May told The Sunday Times: "This marks 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. It means that the authority of EU law in Britain will end."

Brexit Secretary David Davis will tell the conference: "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'."

The Bill is expected to be brought forward in the next parliamentary session (2017-18) and will not pre-empt the two-year process of leaving the EU, which begins when the government triggers Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

Davis will say: "It's very simple. At 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."

The repeal Bill will end the primacy of EU law, meaning rulings by the European Court of Justice will stop applying to the UK once the legislation takes effect.

It will include powers to make changes to the laws using secondary legislation as negotiations over the UK's future relationship proceed, although more wide-ranging amendments or new laws may come forward in separate Bills.

May made clear she does not want the conference to be dominated by the issue of leaving the EU and has taken the unusual step of scheduling two conference speeches, on Brexit on Sunday before delivering the traditional leader's speech to close the conference on Wednesday.

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