The Commencement Order that triggers the repeal of the European Communities Act 1972 on Exit Day is now in force.
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The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (Commencement No. 4) Regulations 2019 is now published on the government legislation website.
And it came into force on the 17th of August 2019 and says:
"The day appointed for the coming into force of section 1 (repeal of the European Communities Act 1972(1)) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 is the day after the day on which these Regulations are made."
And this is an order made under the 'negative procedure', so it does not need the say so of either those in the House of Commons or the House of Lords. It is now law.
What this does, is makes section one of the Withdrawal Act 2018 legally active. So that when exit day arrives, whenever that might be, the European Communities Act, or ECA, 1972 will be repealed and the supremacy of Brussels over the UK will be ended.
But remember that section one of the Withdrawal Act says simply that:
"The European Communities Act 1972 is repealed on exit day."
That's all, no mention of a date. Because Exit Day is defined in section 20 of the Act as 11 pm on the 31st of October 2019 – but this can be changed, if the government decides to do so or if it is forced to do so.
So this commencement order does not, in itself, guarantee that we leave the EU on the 31st of October and that is something that cannot be stressed enough.
Because the legal experts on the other side, like Dominic Grieve and Kier Starmer, will be well aware of this. And the legal bods in the EU machine will also know this.
What this says to me, is that the only way now to stop Brexit happening automatically on the 31st of October is to either:
Extend the Article 50 process again, which would allow the date of exit day defined in the Withdrawal Act to be changed to a later date – this requires the UK government to ask in the proper manner and for the EU27 member states to agree to it.
Or revoke the Article 50 letter, which would allow the exit day date in the Withdrawal Act to be replaced by the word 'never' – this can be done unilaterally by a UK government.
Or repeal of the Withdrawal Act itself – this would require a full act of parliament to go through both the Commons and the Lords.
Or more wildly to accept the Withdrawal Agreement surrender treaty, which turns us from being a member state of the EU, into a colony of the EU. Not that there's really that much difference in real terms.
My guess would be that the pro-EU establishment types will not be keen to be seen trying to force a revocation of the Article 50 letter or to repeal the Withdrawal Act.
No, they will be seeking to get an extension to Article 50 to get a second EU referendum. They want to put the blame for reversing Brexit squarely on the shoulders of the people – not themselves.
I don't think a General Election result would be good enough for them, because it would be muddied by the two party state class war battle. No, they want an unequivocal Brexit statement one way or the other from the electorate and they will do whatever it takes to make it a Remain result – and the Electoral Commission will be busy looking in other directions.
So it is good to hear that according to the Telegraph, the Boris Johnson government is planning to break off talks with the EU in ten days time so as to prepare for our WTO Brexit.