On June 21, the Queen's Speech was delivered setting out the Government’s proposed legislative programme following the recent UK General Election.
The most prominent feature of the Queen’s Speech was its focus on Brexit, with the Government proposing eight pieces of legislation in relation to the UK’s departure from the EU.
- A Repeal Bill, which will repeal the European Communities Act 1972 and convert EU law into domestic law as set out in more detail in our previous blog post following the earlier publication of the Government’s Great Repeal Bill White Paper;
- A Customs Bill that will ensure:
- that the UK has a standalone UK customs regime on exit;
- flexibility to accommodate future trade agreements with the EU and others;
- that changes can be made to the UK’s VAT and excise regimes to ensure that the UK has standalone regimes on EU-exit.
- A Trade Bill which will put in place the essential and necessary legislative framework to allow the UK to operate its own independent trade policy upon exit from the European Union.
- An Immigration Bill which will:
- allow for the repeal of EU law on immigration, primarily free movement, that will otherwise be saved and converted into UK law by the Repeal Bill;
- make the migration of EU nationals and their family members subject to relevant UK law once the UK has left the EU.
- A Fisheries Bill which will enable the UK to exercise responsibility for access to fisheries and management of its waters.
- An Agriculture Bill which will:
- provide stability to farmers as we leave the EU;
- protect our precious natural environment for future generations;
- deliver on the manifesto commitment to provide stability for farmers as we exit the EU.
- A Nuclear Safeguards Bill which, as the UK leaves the EU and Euratom, will give the Office for Nuclear Regulation powers to take on the role and responsibilities required to meet our international safeguards, and nuclear non-proliferation, obligations.
- A UK Sanctions Bill to a new UK framework to implement international sanctions to implement international sanctions on a multilateral or unilateral basis. This will:
- return decision-making powers on non-UN sanctions to the UK;
- enable the UK’s continued compliance with international law after the UK’s exit from the EU.
The extent to which the content of any of the draft Bills are influenced by the progress of the UK’s negotiations with the EU remains to be seen. Significantly, in explaining the proposed Repeal Bill, it is stated that the Bill does not put any constraints on the withdrawal agreement we will make with the EU and further legislation will be introduced to support such an agreement if and when required, thereby preserving flexibility for the Government in the negotiations. How possible this will be in practice is something that will need to be ascertained.