MPs and campaigners to fight for series of amendments to Great Repeal Bill to stop bonfire of rights

Monday, 10 July, 2017

Campaigners and MPs have warned of a “decimation of rights” ahead of the publication of the Great Repeal Bill this week. The government is expected to announce the details of its flagship Brexit legislation this Thursday, with a Second Reading of the Bill expected at some point in autumn.

A briefing published by Another Europe is Possible and Global Justice Now argues that the powers contained in the Bill present a fundamental threat to a number of areas, including:

  1. Workers’ rights in particular the rights of agency workers, protections for working time, and enforcement of the prohibition on discrimination.
  2. The environment in particular ensuring that environmental protections are effective, and polluters bear the cost of pollution, water safety, and air quality.
  3. Human rights particularly prohibitions on the torture trade and protections for privacy.
  4. Consumer protection particularly the regulation of dangerous chemicals and food safety.
  5. Financial regulation particularly in the event that Brexit negotiators are unable to secure the concessions required to maintain the City of London’s access to the EU.

Campaigners will seek to amend the Great Repeal Bill extensively to ensure that rights are preserved. This will include a sunset clause for the delegated powers in the Bill, and a guarantee that that the powers the Bill provides will not be used to reduce substantive individual rights and protections – forming the basis of a Judicial Review if this were to happen.

Labour MP Clive Lewis said: “The Tories are using the Brexit process as a means of undermining democracy and our rights. I and other MPs will use every opportunity to amend the Great Repeal Bill to ensure rights are preserved and the government does not award itself the powers of a renaissance monarch.”

Dr Sam Fowles, author of the report, said: “The Great Repeal Bill creates the opportunity for the government to remove rights and protections to which it objects without going through the usual mechanisms of democratic accountability. This report highlights those policy areas to which the Conservative party has already shown hostility, including protections for the environment, workers, and individual privacy. These rights are at risk unless the bill is amended.”

Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now, part of the AEIP coalition said: “EU law incorporates some of our most cherished protections and rights, as well as rules that, for instance, prevent our government from selling products that can be used in torture overseas. Giving Theresa May the powers of a renaissance monarch to translate these rights and protections into British law is terrifying, as it enables her government to change the way these laws work in fundamental ways, without parliamentary scrutiny. We need enhanced, not reduced, democratic oversight of this process. If parliament cannot achieve this scrutiny, we urge it to vote down the whole Great Repeal Bill.”