Brexit bill ‘fundamentally flawed’ and 'constitutionally unacceptable', say peers
The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill is "constitutionally unacceptable" and will need to be substantially rewritten, a Lords report has said.
According to the Lords constitution committee, the legislation to end the supremacy of EU law and copy it into UK law on Brexit day risks “undermining legal certainty”.
The "scale and complexity" of the bill is complicated by the fact that much depends on the outcome of Brexit talks, they claim.
The committee said a new "retained EU law" category would prompt uncertainty and ambiguity, while controversial Henry VIII powers allowing ministers to change regulations without full parliamentary scrutiny were "overly-broad".
The group also criticised the lack of agreement with the governments of Scotland and Wales, warning the draft could have "significant constitutional repercussions".
“The bill is therefore fundamentally flawed from a constitutional perspective in multiple ways,” the report said.
Their intervention comes as the bill is due to begin its passage through the Lords this week – with the potential for a number of government defeats after just one at Commons stage.
Committee chairwoman Baroness Taylor said: "We acknowledge the scale, challenge and unprecedented nature of the task of converting existing EU law into UK law, but as it stands this bill is constitutionally unacceptable."
However Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town, Labour's shadow Brexit minister, said her party would make changes to the legislation because it was “not fit for purpose”, but expected the opening debate “to deal with some of the nonsense out there that the Lords will block or wreck the legislation”.