The Queen's Speech

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What does the Queen's Speech mean for Brexit?  

The Government announced eight Brexit bills in the Queen’s Speech; this legislative agenda is seen as essential for delivering Brexit by March 2019.


Official purpose

What it will try to do?

Repeal Bill

“End the authority of European Union law in the UK”

“Provide a functioning statute book on the day we leave the European Union”

Convert EU law into UK law.

Provide a smooth transition for businesses and stakeholders through the use of the same rules and laws where possible.

Give the Government temporary Henry VIII powers to amend primary legislation using secondary legislation. This will be needed to: (a) ensure EU law continues to function when on the UK statute book – for example, where laws reference EU institutions and (b) make changes to existing domestic law to reflect the withdrawal agreement.

Amend and/or repeal EU laws (a) where legislation is affected by the withdrawal arrangement and (b) where the original policy aims of EU legislation no longer make sense – for example, data sharing provisions with EU institutions.

Customs Bill

Ensure that “the UK has a standalone UK customs regime on exit”

“flexibility to accommodate future trade agreements with the EU and others”

Provide a domestic customs legislative framework that functions after withdrawal, whatever the outcome of the negotiations.

Enable an operative customs regime for trade, both with the EU and countries around the world post-Brexit.

Ensure a smooth transition for businesses by basing most of the customs legislation on existing EU law.

Trade Bill

“allow the UK to operate its own independent trade policy upon exit from the European Union”

Create a domestic legislative framework for a UK trade policy, for example, to ensure that the UK can strike new trade deals with countries around the world.

Establish a UK trade remedies regime, i.e. put into law a series of measure that protect UK businesses from unfair trading practices. For example, subsidised imports that don’t reflect productions costs and undercut UK producers.

Immigration Bill

“to control the number of people coming here from Europe whilst still allowing us to attract the brightest and the best”

End freedom of movement.

Make migration from the EU subject to UK law.

Fisheries Bill

“enable the UK to exercise responsibility for access to fisheries and management of its waters”

Set domestic fishing quotas.

Preserve fishing stocks.

Agriculture Bill

“ensure that after we leave the EU we have an effective system in place to support UK farmers and protect our natural environment”

Replace the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy with a suitable UK system.

Induce a globally competitive and self-reliant UK agricultural sector.

Protect the UK’s natural environment.

Nuclear Safeguards Bill

“establish a UK nuclear safeguards regime as we leave the European Union and Euratom”

Transfer responsibility for meeting international nuclear safeguards and standards from the EU to the UK’s Office for Nuclear Regulation.

Ensure that the UK remains a responsible nuclear state – for example, not diverting civil nuclear material from its intended use.

International Sanctions Bill

“establishing a new sovereign UK framework to implement international

Set up an independent sanctions regime after withdrawal, i.e. with UK having the ability to choose to adopt measures that counter threats of terrorism, conflict, proliferation of nuclear weapons – for example, freezing assets.

Return control over non-UN sanctions to the UK.

Anything else relevant to Brexit?

The Queen’s Speech also announced a Data Protection Bill. This will ensure that after Brexit the UK maintains adequate standards to enable data sharing with EU member states and countries around the world.

Since the election, many people are calling for a more open and consensual approach to Brexit, as discussed in our explainer on cross-party cooperation. The Queen’s Speech outlined several non-legislative measures for “working with Parliament, the devolved administrations, business and others to build the widest possible consensus on the country’s future outside the European Union.”

This repeats the Government’s past promises to keep Parliament informed on the progress of the negotiations and to engage with the devolved administrations. It also includes a commitment to more open engagement with the business community: as the negotiations progress, the Government plans “to test and validate positions and to continue to build support from the business community”.

Will more Brexit legislation be needed?

Probably. The summary notes on the Repeal Bill insist that it will not constrain the withdrawal agreement, with the Government planning that “further legislation will be introduced to support such an agreement if and when required”.

We will have to wait until the nature of the withdrawal agreement becomes clearer to understand what this additional legislation might be.