Brexit: UK legislation: recent developments

Withdrawal Bill

On 13 July 2017 the Repeal Bill - now called the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill - was introduced into the House of Commons and has had its first and second readings. The Bill was considered in a Committee of the whole House of Commons in November and December 2017 when the Bill was debated on a line by line basis and proposed amendments were considered. Over 400 amendments were tabled.

The Bill as amended in Committee of the House of Commons was published on 21 December 2017. The Bill had its Report stage and third reading in the House of Commons on 16 and 17 January 2018.

The Bill had its first and second reading in the House of Lords on 18 January 2018. The Bill completed the Committee stage in the House of Lords (when it is considered on a line by line basis) on 28 March 2018. The Report stage (which is a further line by line examination) is scheduled for six days from18 April to 08 May 2018.

This Bill will:

  • repeal the European Communities Act 1972 on the day the UK formally leaves the EU
  • convert EU law as it stands at the moment of exit into UK law before the UK leaves the EU, so that the first day following exit does not place the UK in a legal vacuum
  • create powers to make secondary legislation, including temporary powers to allow corrections to be made to laws that would otherwise no longer operate appropriately once the UK has left the EU and to implement a withdrawal agreement, and
  • maintain the current scope of devolved decision-making powers in areas currently governed by EU law.

See The Repeal Bill: A profound change to the English legal system for an outline of the key provisions of the Withdrawal Bill as they stand; looking at the timing of the Bill and how it will convert the Acquis into English law. We identify challenges that all lawyers will face on 01 April 2019 and some unanswered questions.

Other Bills

There will also be other bills relating to the customs regime, trade policy, immigration, fisheries, agriculture, nuclear safeguards and international sanctions.

Customs regime

On 09 October 2017, HM Treasury released a White Paper setting out its plans for legislating a new Customs Bill to ensure that the UK will retain the ability to implement VAT, customs and excise duties post-Brexit. See Brexit: Customs Bill for more information. The Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill 2017-2019 was introduced into Parliament and has had its first and second reading and has completed the Public Bill Committee stage. The Bill will now go to the Report stage of the House of Commons without amendment, on a date to be announced.

Trade policy

On 09 October 2017, the Department for International Trade published a White Paper that establishes the principles that will guide future UK trade policy as well as laying out the practical steps that will support those aims. The Trade Bill 2017-2019 was introduced to Parliament and had its first and second readings and has completed the Public Bill Committee stage. The Bill will now go to the Report stage of the House of Commons without amendment, on a date to be announced. 

Nuclear safeguards

The Nuclear Safeguards Bill, which will bolster the roles and responsibilities of the UK’s nuclear regulator, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), once the UK leaves Euratom, was introduced into Parliament on 11 October 2017. The bill has had its first, second and third readings in the House of Commons. The bill has also completed the House of Lords stage and will now go back to the House of Commons for consideration of the Lords amendments. 

International sanctions

The Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill was introduced to Parliament (and had its first reading) on 18 October 2017, following a public consultation on the measures. The bill will give the UK the necessary legal powers to continue to implement sanctions post-Brexit, including the maintaining of existing sanctions regimes currently imposed through EU law, and providing the necessary legal underpinning for the UK to decide when and how to take action against new threats. The bill has started in the House of Lords instead of the House of Commons and completed the House of Lords stages on 24 January 2018. It has had its first and second readings and completed the Public Bill Committee stage of the House of Commons. The bill will now be considered at the third reading and report stage on a date to be announced.

This document (and any information accessed through links in this document) is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this document.