When the UK leaves the EU, how will we, the public, know what EU laws are still relevant and 'retained'? And where can we find this info out?
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Now, I found the following a bit odd, so see what you make of it.
Firstly though a little bit of background.
When the UK leaves the EU, the plan is for all EU legislation to immediately become part of UK law and then in future only be able to be changed by our parliament as it legislates.
That way there is consistency in the law so that everything is the same the day after Brexit Day, as it was the day before Brexit Day, except that we've cut out the EU law making process and the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
And as part of this, the EU Withdrawal Act 2018, which repeals the 1972 European Communities Act and defines Brexit Day, also requires the National Archives to maintain a publicly viewable list of all those retained EU laws and the changes we subsequently make to them.
Sounds eminently sensible.
But when I was taking a quick look at recently issued statutory instruments, or SIs, I found one called the EU Withdrawal Act 2018 (Commencement No. 3) 2019 signed on Tuesday by James Cleverly MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Exiting the European Union. This came into force yesterday, the 3rd of July.
This SI brought into effect part of a Schedule of the Withdrawal Act that orders the Queen's Printer that runs the National Archives, to make arrangements for the retained EU laws to be published.
I can hear you saying, 'so what, it's just part of the plan isn't it'?
Except, that I can find no evidence that this was happening in the run up to either the March the 29th Brexit deadline or the subsequent one after the first Article 50 extension.
In fact the government issued a press release yesterday announcing this move, which as far as I can see has not made it into the mainstream press.
Here we have quite a significant milestone for Brexit in that lawyers and businesses as well as the public, will have access to such a resource – and not a word.
The press release says:
"Minister James Cleverly has signed papers which will enable The National Archives to launch two new services to aid legal certainty once we leave the EU and to ensure legislation is accessible to the public.
"The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 required The National Archives to make all EU legislation relevant to our exit available online. The National Archives have now produced two services to host this crucial information. The first is a comprehensive archive of EU law which will be captured through to exit day, allowing members of the public to search for EU legislation, treaties, international agreements and case law.
"The second strand of work is the addition of EU legislation to legislation.gov.uk, all pieces of EU law were uploaded to the website including a timeline of the changes so far. The service makes it easy for people to find out how EU legislation is being changed by the UK."
Now, that tells me that either the database would not have been ready before now, or that maybe we are getting more serious about Brexit now.
Because had this announcement already been made before the March the 29th Brexit day, then there would have been no need for the announcement yesterday, as it would already be happening.
And an earlier press release a year ago on the 5th of July 2018, shows that preparations for this were already well underway.
So, as I've said, the two puzzling things for me, are firstly the lack of media coverage, surely it's newsworthy for the legal profession at the minimum?
And secondly, why wasn't this order issued prior to the initial Brexit Day of the 29th March 2019?
Or, get this – let's be really conspiratorial shall we? Are preparations now being made for the possibility, or has government been told, that the Robin Tilbrook Judicial Review case will prove that we've already left the EU due to the unlawful first extension to Article 50?