Live: David Davis receives hammering over Repeal Bill

 
Catherine Neilan
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BRITAIN-POLITICS-EU
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David Davis has received a hammering over whether the Repeal Bill will undermine British citizens' constitutional rights, amid cross-party concerns that it amounts to a "power grab".

Conservative MP Anna Soubry raised concerns about the so-called Henry VIII clause, while her colleague Dominic Grieve challenged the Brexit secretary on plans to remove the charter of fundamental rights, which he claimed eroded people's rights.

But Davis rejected this, insisting the charter merely codified existing rights.

However, he was then challenged by the SNP’s justice and home affairs spokeswoman, Joanna Cherry, who said the charter allowed people to sue if their rights are infringed. Without the charter incorporated into UK law, that particular right will not apply.

Davis acknowledged there was an issue, suggesting it would be addressed as the bill progresses through the Commons. If that does not happen, Cherry should take it up with him, he added.

Shadow Brexit secretary Kier Starmer claimed Davis was "keen to portray the bill as a technical one - nothing could be further from the truth".

Agreements implemented in the bill will "extend to every facet of national life" and represent "a colossal task likely to involve a whole host of policy changes", he added, arguing the delegated powers included in the bill are "as wide as I've seen".

Labour is seeking to block the bill on its second reading on the grounds that

it fails to protect and reassert the principle of parliamentary sovereignty by handing sweeping powers to government ministers allowing them to bypass parliament on key decisions, allows for rights and protections to be reduced or removed through secondary legislation without any meaningful or guaranteed parliamentary scrutiny, fails to include a presumption of devolution which would allow effective transfer of devolved competencies coming back from the EU to the devolved administrations and makes unnecessary and unjustified alterations to the devolution settlements, fails to provide certainty that rights and protections will be enforced as effectively in the future as they are at present, risks weakening human rights protections by failing to transpose the EU charter of fundamental rights into UK law, provides no mechanism for ensuring that the UK does not lag behind the EU in workplace protections and environmental standards in the future and prevents the UK implementing strong transitional arrangements on the same basic terms we currently enjoy, including remaining within a customs union and within the single market.

Starmer said the bill as it stands would "reduce MPs to spectators", saying it represented "an unprecedented power grab".

Father of the house Ken Clarke complained about the time constraints in which to discuss such a significant bill, and warned the government that if it didn't show some willingness to make amendments "we may have to force it back to the drawing board".

He added: "I don't want assurances, I don't want charm: I want positive amendments." That was welcomed with cheers from the opposition - although he followed up by saying there was "an absolute whisker of difference" between Labour's stance and the government's.

Amid growing concerns that there is not enough time to conclude a deal, Brexit minister Steve Baker stressed that MPs shouldn't fear a no deal option.

“What we can’t do is accept some kind of punishment deal, and I certainly think that the environment in which the United Kingdom trades with the world, in the context of controlling our own tariffs, our own taxes, our own domestic regulation, is an environment of which we should not be afraid," he said.