The government has signed into law legislation to repeal the European Communities Act which set in stone Britain’s membership of the European Economic Community, the forerunner of the European Union, in 1972.
The repeal will take effect when Britain formally leaves the EU 31st October.
Secretary of State for Exiting the EU Steve Barclay said the move was a “clear signal” to the British people “there is no turning back” and the country would be exiting the EU “as promised…whatever the circumstances”.
— Steve Barclay MP (@SteveBarclay) August 18, 2019
“The votes of 17.4 million people deciding to leave the EU is the greatest democratic mandate ever given to any UK Government. Politicians cannot choose which public votes they wish to respect…The ECA saw countless EU regulations flowing directly into UK law for decades. This is a landmark moment in taking back control of our laws from Brussels,” he added.
However, the significance of the ‘repeal’ has been challenged by legal expert Mark Elliot, Professor of Public Law and Deputy Chair of the Faculty of Law at the University of Cambridge. In a blogpost, he stated Barclay had merely brought into force section one of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (EUWA), which states the ECA would be repealed on ‘exit day’ – a “decidedly modest” move, given other provisions of the Withdrawal Act enable the date of exit day to be amended if the EU agrees to a further extension.
— Mark Elliott (@ProfMarkElliott) August 18, 2019
“This is precisely what happened when extensions to the Article 50 period were agreed between the UK and the European Council in the spring. There is no legal reason why this could not happen again — and bringing section one of the EUWA into force makes absolutely no difference to this point. Whether section one is in force or not, it only produces legal effects from exit day. The Brexit Secretary has not ‘set in stone’ the repeal of the ECA,” Elliot argued.