Brexit: What is the great repeal bill?

How more than 52,000 pieces of EU legislation will be transferred into British law

Theresa May
(Image credit: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images)

Prime Minister Theresa May may have triggered Article 50 with parliament's consent yesterday, but "another Brexit battle is looming in the form of the government's Great Repeal Bill", says the BBC.

May will set out her plans to convert all EU legislation into UK law in a white paper today.

But research has shown as many as 52,741 separate relevant pieces have been passed since 1990.

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"The huge scale of unravelling the legal mountain - that includes 6,718 new laws applying in the UK since 2010 alone - prompted warnings that any 'bonfire of these regulations' will be a tortuous and complex process," says The Sun.

What is it?

It should really be titled the great repatriation bill, says City AM. The Financial Times agrees: "Initially, the legislation repeals very little," it says.

The bill's initial purpose is to place the entire body of existing EU law on to the UK statute books, giving parliament the power to amend and repeal them in the future, once the UK formally leaves the EU.

When is it happening?

The bill will be introduced in the next Queen's Speech, says the BBC, and will then have to pass through parliament. The plan is for it to be passed ahead of the UK's exit from the EU but to become law only on the date of departure.

However, the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales could yet scupper the timetable. The government has suggested their consent will be required, as the bill will have implications in areas for which they are responsible.

Scotland's Brexit minister has warned that Holyrood could take action if its interests are not represented in the negotiations.

The UK government says this could have "very significant consequences", leaving "a hole in our law".

What will it consist of?

A minimum of seven new bills will need to pass through parliament in order to deliver Brexit, although the final number could be as high as 15, according to the Institute for Government. That will leave "precious little space" for other business, Hannah White, the institute's director of research told the BBC.

"To give a sense of the task at hand, the think-tank said that in most years, about 20 new pieces of government legislation are unveiled during the Queen's speech," says Bloomberg.

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