The EU Withdrawal Bill a Great Repeal - a minor re-labelling or an enabler of reform?
Well off we go with the first reading in the House of Commons of the bill formerly (and probably always popularly) known as the Great Repeal Bill.
In the current political atmosphere the Bill will create even more noise but what does it really signal?
On one level it does what it says on the label; it withdraws EU legislation from the UK statute book. It gives us a stable set of laws which are now UK approved not EU derived – so far so good. In any possible flavour of Brexit it is a necessary step.
For me the real question is does that fix the legislative problem for good and ever or is it just a first step. I am pretty sure it is the latter, and it is the next steps that we should be really bothered about.
Much of the noise will focus on the ways that Government will deliver the thousands, yes thousands of consequential changes that are likely to be needed and flow from the Withdrawal Act. Real parliamentary scrutiny will be a huge challenge for that volume of change. Where is the line between a consequential change and a change of policy which could have a real impact on your life or business?
However the trickier issue and potentially the even bigger (and long running) task is how do we take the "as is" new UK laws and re shape them into a new set of legislation that works for the UK, a UK that needs to be competitive and open to a wider world but retains a "special partnership" with the EU. That is a tall order so start your own wish list, now, as you can be pretty sure politicians will be pre-occupied with the mechanics of exit, and navigating the stormy political waters we are now in.