The retained EU Law Bill

In her column in Mid Devon Advertiser, 26/1/23, Anne Marie Morris wrote of the retained EU Law Bill that it “It allows us to correct our statute book so that we no longer have laws which [came from our former] EU membership which we do not want to keep.”

Without this bill we can already “correct our statute book” if it was wrong. What this bill actually does is automatically remove laws and rights that we have simply because they came from the EU. Her words are misleading on this point. These will be lost regardless if they are good laws, regardless if an adequate replacement exists, regardless if the outcome is better or worse. Regardless of whether anyone has actually thought about it at all. They will all be lost except for any that get protected by a (Conservative) minister of this government in time.

This is utterly reckless and typical of this government’s deeply divisive “Get Brexit done at all costs” mentality. This is not a “correction” as she claims, it is a wholesale attack on our rights.

She goes on to say “The misconception around environmental or maternity rights simply vanishing at the end of 2023 is not true.” I re-checked my facts, and both unison and the Scottish Government confirm that Maternity rights are in this category and will be lost under this Bill unless they are specifically protected. She assures us that Maternity rights will be protected, but what about all the others?

In fact, over decades the EU has built up a whole raft of employment rights, and environmental protections that most of us don’t notice until they are gone.

Is Anne Marie Morris’s government committed to keeping Paternity rights? Are they committed to keeping the 48-hour maximum working week? (I have benefited from this EU right during my career) Flexible working rights for parents? This places no burden on employers, they can say no, but they must justify why. My children grew up closer to me directly because of this right, will their children have the same benefit? These are just examples, the list is huge. The right to paid leave? These are the sort of rights we are talking about. The EU has delivered a programme of GOOD rights that do not need “correction”.

It is like deliberately setting fire to a museum then saying “Look, It is fine, we saved this painting!”. What is wrong with choosing the laws to review, justifying the changes, debating and scrutinising them. That would be the action of any responsible government. Instead they pander to the most extremist thinking and scrap our rights just because the EU had a hand in forming them.

This government appears slavishly committed to the most extreme and damaging of all possible Brexit. The wholesale loss of so many precious rights was dismissed as “Project fear” by Brexit supporters saying “That will never happen”. Welcome to “Project Reality” and our MPs try to justify it with misleading weasel words about “allowing us to correct things we don’t want” or claiming they have a mandate.

This isn’t what people voted for, it is what the Conservatives have decided to do.