LONDON — The government’s attempts to transpose decades of EU laws into UK law is going to provide “years of entertainment,” the lawyer representing the government in the Supreme Court said today, in a hint of the huge difficulties facing the UK.
The unguarded comments by James Eadie QC, came on the second day of the historic Article 50 appeal. The court’s 11 justices are tasked with deciding whether the High Court was correct in ruling that Theresa May must secure parliamentary approval before triggering Britain’s formal departure from the European Union.
Eadie, who is representing the Department for Exiting the European Union (DexEU), was quizzed about the Great Repeal Bill, which will transpose thousands of EU laws and directives into British law. Theresa May claimed that the bill will make the Brexit process smoother.
Lady Hale asked Eadie about the sheer complexities of the bill, specifically what will happen to “swathes of EU law” including the right of Brits to refer legal cases to the Court of Justice of the European Union.
In response, Eadie said: “There may be real complexities in the Great Repeal Bill… years of entertainment.”
The lawyer’s light-hearted response wasn’t received well by Hale, who pressed Eadie to explain in depth how the bill will impact specific EU laws. Eadie had already struggled to answer questions on the Great Repeal bill during Monday’s session. At one point, he said “pass” when asked what role MPs would play in the legislation.
Eadie’s remarks spoke to the concerns of numerous legal experts about the Great Repeal Bill. “You can’t just take the whole of EU law and plonk it into the UK legal system because so much of what the EU does is inherently cross-border in nature,” the University of Liverpool’s Michael Dougan said last month. A legal source told the Times that DexEU had the”wrong seniority, the wrong levels of experience, the wrong skillset” to execute the legislation.
Eadie also appeared to confirm that May will immediately put an Article 50 bill to Parliament if the appeal is unsuccessful. The lawyer told the court that the “solution in parliamentary terms” to an unsuccessful appeal would be a “one line act.” A Lords’ source who attended the proceedings on Monday told Business Insider that parliament expects the PM to table an act of parliament within weeks if the government loses its appeal.
This development comes as the Labour Party continues to dither over its response to Brexit and specifically the case being heard in the Supreme Court at the moment. Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas told BI that Labour was capitulating to the Tory’s Brexit plan, after Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbot said the party had “no view” on whether MPs should get a vote before Article 50 is triggered.
The Supreme Court case continues and will conclude on Thursday, with a verdict expected in early January.
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