So 29th March will go down as the day we officially told Brussels that the UK was leaving the EU. It also happened to be the same day that Scotland’s First Minister told Theresa May, that Scotland wanted to have a second Independence Referendum – now who could have seen that coming I wonder?
Sarcasm apart – the day was one of mixed emotions, we had the euphoria of the “Brexiteers” alongside what can probably be described as the muted despair of the “Remoaners”. Ironically we now have the prospect of “The Great Repeal Bill,” which first surfaced in 1539 in Henry VIII’s reign as the “Statute Of Proclamations” when the king sought to give himself the power to legislate by proclamation following the split from Rome over his divorce from Catherine of Aragon. These so-called “Henry VIII clauses” allow the Government to change old laws already passed by Parliament and the Prime Minster powers to change existing laws without Parliamentary approval. The rational for this from the Government, is that with some 12,000 EU Regulations in force through domestic legislation in the UK and with 7900 Statutory Instruments and 186 Acts of Parliament giving powers over domestic laws to EU Institutions, the Government insists they need these powers which will be time limited, to “correct or incorporate” these laws into UK domestic legislation and to effectively erase the reference to EU institutions. The cynic could see this as a power grab by the current government and/or an attempt to avoid having to refer these laws to the House of Lords where the Government does not have a majority. If we had an effective Opposition at this time one could have a degree of confidence this process – probably pragmatic in its approach, would be subject to critical scrutiny by the Opposition. With the Opposition in its current ineffective state, that looks a forlorn hope.
So we have 2 years to reach a new agreement with the EU – but first the cost of the separation needs to be agreed and that looks set to be a mammoth task, as the distance between the parties currently looks to be considerable.(this discounts the recent House of Lords Report stating that the UK owed nothing to the EU on exit). In addition, the whole Gibraltar issue has again surfaced in the EU’s initial response to the Article 50 notice, should we be surprised?
Whatever happens over the next two years – one profession that will be kept busy without a doubt will be the legal profession! It’s an “ill wind” as they say!
Just a short update on the fact that our industry is not immune from the creeping threat of “Fake News.” I meant to refer to it in my last blog on the TATOC Conference but didn’t have the space. There was a blog on the TESS site ENTITLED “Who is TATOC,” run I believe by one Mr. David Cox, that referred to the upcoming Conference on 4th March and the fact that both I and Robin Mills (not Miles as in the piece) had declined to participate at the event. As Robin was the Conference moderator and I not only spoke at a Conference session but wrote a blog about it, I think we can safely assume this was a piece of so-called fake news, or merely a bit of mischief making? I make it a rule not to comment on pieces such as this but thought on this occasion I should at least set the record straight.