Next Wednesday, Theresa May is set to officially notify the European Union that the UK is leaving.
Whilst it may seem the Brexit permutations have rumbled on for nine months already, this is the official start of the negotiation period for Britain to leave the European Union.
Draft deals – on the nature and relationship of Britain to the EU – will be hashed out, all requiring approval from at least 20 of the 27 EU countries and then ratification by the European Parliament.
If a deal hasn’t been reached within two years, negotiations can be extended further but only if all of the EU nations agree. If there is no agreement, and no deal then Britain leaves the EU regardless.
Likely to hinder, or delay the process, are the elections in France and Germany as it won’t be known which leaders Britain will be negotiating with.
Whilst the above outlines the international landscape, domestically Britain will have to push through lots of Brexit bills to replace EU directives and regulations.
The Institute for Government (IfG), an independent group, said in their ‘Legislating Brexit’ report that up to fifteen new bills – needed to deliver Brexit – will place a ‘huge burden’ on Parliament and Government, leaving little time for other legislation.
This does not include the huge amount of work needed to create a watertight Great Repeal bill which will end EU legal authority in the country by scrapping the 1972 European Communities Act.
The 18-page reports argues that; Brexit will place a huge burden on both Parliament and Government departments. Considerable time and resource will be soaked up and there will be precious little space left in the legislative programme for other legislation that departments might have wanted to see pass."
The Queen’s Speech, at the opening of Parliament every year, typically announces 20 new bills. If that is taken as an average, 15 Brexit bills would leave little time for anything else.
The research also brings up concerns about the ways in which new legislation will be passed. There is potential to use routes, such as secondary legislation, which are less likely to be properly scrutinized.
The paper also makes several recommendations for how the Government should manage Brexit-related bills, including publishing white papers with full impact assessments and scheduling the legislative programme to allow the timely passage of the secondary legislation needed before exit.
Dr Hannah White, IfG Director of Research, said: “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.”