The influential chair of the Brexit Committee has slammed a key amendment to the critical EU Withdrawal Bill, saying the government's decision to enshrine the time and date of Brexit in law could create "significant difficulties".
Launching the Brexit Committee's report on the Withdrawal Bill today, Hilary Benn said today the government's amendment to the Bill, which ensures Brexit will take place at 11pm on 29 March 2019, will be problematic.
We need to maintain flexibility as the negotiations proceed, but ministers are now proposing to remove from the Bill the power to set different exit days for different purposes and replace it with a single exit day.
This would create significant difficulties if the negotiations were to continue until the 59th minute of the 11th hour, as the Secretary of State suggested to us might happen.
And while the report welcomed the government's plans to introduce a separate vote on implementing Brexit, Benn voiced confusion over a clause in the
[It] does beg the question as to what Clause Nine of the... [Withdrawal] Bill – which is all about implementing a withdrawal agreement – is now for?
The report also called for more clarity on how British law will keep pace with European changes following Brexit.
"In [some] areas, it will be in the UK's interest to keep pace with changes to laws in the EU," it said.
"Government should... publish details of how they will ensure the UK's regulatory agencies have the necessary resources and enforcement powers which are vital for consumer confidence."
It pointed out that between 800 and 1,000 new laws will need to be passed before Brexit day.
"Uncertainty will only be removed if all the necessary legislative amendments are in place by any potential exit day to ensure no gaps are left in the statute book," it said.