Theresa May risks defeat on Brexit after Labour demands major changes to Great Repeal Bill

Theresa MayWPA Pool / GettyTheresa May heading for trouble on Brexit.
  • Theresa May faces possible defeat on the defining issue of her premiership.
  • Labour say they will vote against the “Great Repeal Bill” unless May makes six changes.
  • Tory rebellions likely on most significant legislation of this parliament.
  • Brexit Secretary David Davis to publish the bill later on Thursday.

LONDON — Theresa May’s Repeal Bill, designed to withdraw Britain from all EU law, could be defeated after Labour said they would vote against it unless the prime minister agreed to a series of changes.

The Brexit secretary David Davis will on Thursday publish the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, formerly known as “The Great Repeal Bill”.

The bill is designed to repeal and replace all laws and regulations relying upon Britain’s membership of the EU before Britain leaves in 2019 and is one of the most significant pieces of legislation planned this parliament.

However, Labour has today demanded six changes to the bill in order to guarantee their support. With Conservative rebellions on aspects of the bill highly likely, May is facing possible defeat on the defining issue of her premiership.

Failure to pass the bill would lead to major regulatory and legal uncertainty and calls for Britain’s two-year process for leaving the 28-nation bloc to be delayed.

Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary told The Guardian that the party could not support the bill in is current form.

He has demanded six concessions from the government, including:

  • Guarantees that workers’ rights in Britain do not fall behind those in the EU.
  • That the European Charter of Fundamental Rights is incorporated into UK law.
  • That widespread “Henry VIII” powers contained within the bill allowing the government to rewrite decades of UK law are restricted.

The bill has been described as a “political power grab” due to the widespread powers it hands the government to rewrite the UK’s entire legal and regulatory framework without parliamentary scrutiny.

Starmer said he was putting May “on notice” that she must give ground on the bill.

“Nobody is seeking to frustrate the process,” he insisted.

“We are determined to ensure that the right approach is taken, and this is all about protecting the rights of citizens in Britain.”

He added: “I haven’t seen any evidence that the prime minister has reflected on the outcome of the general election and indicated a willingness to change her approach to Brexit. On the contrary, she has reinforced the approach that she took to the electorate.”

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said his party would join Labour in giving May “hell” on the bill.

Parliament is due to go on its summer recess next week with votes on the Great Repeal Bill not due until autumn. The repeal bill is the first of eight Brexit-related bills May hopes to pass this parliament.

Other highly controversial legislation planned by May include her plans to take Britain out of the single market and customs union, as well as a bill which will set out Britain’s immigration system post-Brexit.

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