Government confirms date for triggering Article 50

20 Mar 17

Downing Street today announced that the official process of leaving the EU will start on March 29 after the Queen gave royal assent to the necessary legislation last week.

The president of the European Council Donald Tusk is expected to offer an initial response within 48 hours.

The announcement comes as a think-tank released a report warning of the legislative burden on parliament of exiting the EU.

Delivering Brexit will require 15 additional bills as well as The Great Repeal Bill, according to research published by the Institute for Government released today.

The Great Repeal Bill will bring EU law back onto the UK statute books and is expected to be announced in the Queen’s Speech this spring.

Legislating Brexit warns departments need to “ruthlessly” prioritise other legislation as Brexit-related bills will leave room for little else.

The typical Queen’s Speech - usually held every year - only announces 20 bills, the report points out.

Hannah White, IfG director of research, said: "The legislation required for Brexit will leave little parliamentary time for anything else – and making a success of it will require a large volume of bills and secondary legislation to be passed by parliament against a hard deadline.

“It will be a challenge for both the government and parliament to do all this while still ensuring full scrutiny and leaving room for the government’s domestic policy agenda.”

This comes after the Sunday Telegraph reported yesterday senior figures from three Whitehall departments delivering Brexit have told Philip Hammond and the Treasury they need tens of millions of extra funding.

Although David Gauke, chief secretary to the Treasury, downplayed these resource concerns.

“We are confident that departments have the resources needed to ensure we get the best deal for Britain as we leave the EU, and have the right skills to make the most of the opportunities that lie ahead,” he said.

IfG researchers said in their report the extent of legislative change required will inevitably lead to government using different routes to make Brexit-related changes – such as using secondary legislation to amend primary legation [so-called Henry VIII powers] – which is subject to less parliamentary scrutiny. 

Because of this, the paper argues, the government should resist the temptation to introduce non-essential changes in the repeal bill.

Instead, priority should be to copy across the acquis – the body of European Union law - which can be amended after Brexit.

The paper also calls for Theresa May’s government, which has a narrow majority in the Commons, to issue white papers with full impact assessments and scheduling the legislative programme to allow the timely passage of any secondary legislation.

As the government prepares to trigger Article 50, CIPFA is bringing together leading experts and practitioners to debate the future implications for public services.

A new issue of PF Perspectives – The Brexit balance sheet: weighing up the public sector costs – is being launched on Tuesday 4 April at a public debate in Westminster.

For an invitation and further details contact [email protected]

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