Henry VIII powers in Great Repeal Bill will 'behead democracy', campaigners say

Thursday, 7 September, 2017

 Photos available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wdm/albums/72157686309071793

  • Henry VIII ‘Don’t Behead Democracy’ stunt as EU Withdrawal Bill receives second reading
  • Campaigners label bill ‘biggest threat to parliamentary democracy in decades’

Campaigners from Another Europe is Possible and Global Justice Now slammed the EU Withdrawal Bill (formerly known as the Great Repeal Bill) today as “the biggest threat to parliamentary democracy in decades”. Campaigners dressed in Tudor costumes stood outside parliament to protest the widespread use of ‘Henry VIII’ powers in the bill, which give extraordinary powers to government ministers to ‘translate’ large elements of EU law into UK law. They fear that during this ‘translation’ vital rights and protections could be watered down. 
 
The campaign has released two briefings, the first detailing the ‘decimation of rights’ which the EU Withdrawal Bill could lead to, and second outlining amendments the groups are calling on MPs to support in order to ensure proper parliamentary scrutiny during the passage of the bill.

Among those rights which campaigners fear could be watered down are:

  • Workers’ rights, in particular the rights of agency workers and anti-discrimination law.
  • The environment, in particular the ‘precautionary principle’.
  • Human rights including protections for privacy.
  • Consumer protection, including the regulation of toxic chemicals and food safety.

Sam Fowles, for Another Europe is Possible, said: “The Great Repeal Bill creates the opportunity for the government to remove the effectiveness of some of our most cherished rights and protections without going through the usual mechanisms of democratic accountability. Our basic rights are at risk unless MPs stand up for our rights and amend the bill.”
 
Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now, said: “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 Bill.”   
 
The briefings are:
- Decimating Rights: The Consequences of the Great Repeal Bill, https://www.globaljustice.org.uk/resources/decimating-rights-consequences-great-repeal-bill
- How To Fix the Great Repeal Bill, http://www.anothereurope.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/GRB-Ammendments-Paper-v3.docx


Photo: Jess Hurd

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