British government accused of 'power-grab' after publishing 'great repeal bill'

The bill will see EU laws converted into British law after Brexit

British government accused of 'power-grab' after publishing 'great repeal bill'

Picture by: Matt Dunham/AP/Press Association Images

The British government has published its 'great repeal bill' ahead of Brexit - but Scottish and Welsh leaders have accused Theresa May of a "naked power-grab".

The bill, which ends the supremacy of EU law over British legislation and repeals the bill that took the country into the bloc, will "maximise continuity" on the day of the UK's departure "where it is practical and sensible", according to the British government.

EU laws will be converted into domestic law, allowing British officials to decide which rules and regulations it wants to keep post-Brexit.

Ministers hope the bill will give confidence to businesses, workers and consumers that they will not face unexpected changes on the day of Brexit.

However, the Scottish and Welsh governments have said they cannot recommend that legislative consent is given to the bill as it stands.

In a joint statement, first ministers Nicola Sturgeon and Carwyn Jones described it as a "naked power-grab" that undermined devolution.

They said: “Our two governments – and the UK government – agree we need a functioning set of laws across the UK after withdrawal from the EU. We also recognise that common frameworks to replace EU laws across the UK may be needed in some areas.

"But the way to achieve these aims is through negotiation and agreement, not imposition. It must be done in a way which respects the hard-won devolution settlements."

UK Scottish Secretary David Mundell said the legislation would result in a powers "bonanza" for the Scottish parliament, and said he was confident of getting legislative consent.

The UK Labour party has previously said it will vote against the bill if the European Charter of Fundamental Rights is not incorporated into British law, something which the British government has now confirmed will be ditched.

Mrs May and Brexit Secretary David Davis have called on parties to work together to ensure the bill goes through parliament.

Jeremy Corbyn's party, however, said it was making the charter a "red line" for its support of the bill.

Mr Corbyn said: "Far too much of it seems to be a process where the Government will decide through statutory instruments and therefore will be able to bypass Parliament.

"We will make sure there is full parliamentary scrutiny."

The UK will keep its own domestic rights and protections and remain a member of the European Convention on Human Rights, leading the British government to believe leaving the charter will not have a significant effect.