Proposal code: MM-2016-12-188
Do Not Allow Article 50 to be Triggered Before the Transfer into UK Law of All EU Derived Environmental, Worker and Consumer Protections is Guaranteed by Statute.
The Tories have (vaguely) promised to transpose environmental, worker and consumer protections currently derived from our membership of the EU into UK law by their Great Repeal Act, which they intend to pass before we actually leave the EU.
However, there are, of course, lots of reasons not to trust the Tories. The Government wants to leave itself wriggle room to change “minor” laws as part of its Brexit negotiations, without needing to pass a bill through Parliament. It will be the Tories themselves who will be defining the meaning of “minor”. David Davies, the Brexit Secretary, has also stated that “EU law will be transposed into domestic law, wherever practical, on exit day”, so it seems likely that the Tories will also be reserving to themselves the right to define what is and isn't “practical”. Finally, some Tory MPs have already proposed that there should an automatic “sunshine clause” on the EU laws transposed into UK law: in other words, after a certain interval, those laws would be automatically repealed, unless explicitly renewed by Act of Parliament.
Unfortunately, once Article 50 is triggered, our actual exit from the EU, and therefore repeal of all these EU derived protections, is likely to become unstoppable, without any need for any further Parliamentary assent. That will leave us with no hope of saving our environmental, worker and consumer protections other than “trusting” to the Tories and the “transposition” of EU law into UK law apparently proposed by their worryingly named “Great Repeal Act”.
Whether or not Article 50, once invoked, can be legally revoked, i.e. whether or not the exit process could then ever legally be stopped, is one of the key arguments being contested in the Supreme Court at the time of writing. However that particular legal point is ever resolved (and it may never be put beyond possible dispute) the upshot is that once Article 50 is triggered, the exit process would be extremely difficult to stop. Triggering Article 50 therefore means that all the worker, consumer and environmental protections we currently derive from the EU would be consigned to inevitable oblivion within two years. The only hope for saving those protections would be to trust the Tories and their “Great Repeal Act”.
It would clearly be madness to trust the Tory Government on this point. These are the Tories who promised no “top-down reorganisation of the NHS”, only to, months later, introduce a re-organisation of the NHS so large it could be “seen from space”. These are the Tories who promised “we're all in it together.” These are the Tories who could only keep their promise that, if we accepted austerity, we would have jam tomorrow by redefining the meaning of “jam”. The Government's currently proposed sequence of steps within what exists of their Brexit plan is a trap intended to allow the ultimate “neoliberal” “deregulation” of our economy. We will be waving goodbye to limits on working hours, on a right to paid leave, to clean rivers and beaches, and much else besides.
Before Article 50 is even triggered we must have an Act of Parliament guaranteeing that all the EU laws providing worker, consumer and environmental protections will be automatically transposed into UK law upon us leaving the EU.