Leaked reports that at least seven bills will be needed to replace legislation currently emanating from the EU are unsurprising. There are many areas where the UK government has effectively handed over responsibility for public policy to the EU, for example agriculture, fishing and trade policy. In these fields, the UK will have to develop its own policies from scratch, which means that a lot of legislation will be required to achieve this.
Although the Great Repeal Bill will transpose large parts of existing EU law into domestic UK law, there are many areas where this will not work, such as immigration law. After Brexit, EU citizens will no longer have rights of free movement, so UK legislation will be required to put into effect the government’s policy on immigration from EU countries.
This will put huge pressure on the parliamentary timetable if all the required legislation is to be in force by March 2019, the anticipated date of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. It will also constitute a great logistical challenge for the civil service. Putting in place the systems required for a new immigration policy will require considerable time and resources. For example, if EU nationals are to be required to obtain work permits, a whole new structure will be needed.
Brexit will probably result in the largest legislative programme in the history of the UK.
Trevor Tayleur, associate professor, University of Law, London WC1