"Bring home our rights", Alliance of 80+ organisations from across civil society tells MPs

For extended comment or for more information about the alliance, please contact the alliance's coordinator, Jane Thomas, at jane.thomas@repealbill.org or 07957 240826.

An Alliance of over 80 organisations from across civil society has called on MPs to not scrap the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, as it goes up for debate on day 3 of Committee Stage for the EU (Withdrawal) Bill.

The Repeal Bill Alliance, which is a group of over 80 organisations from across civil society, is calling on MPs to treat the Charter no differently than any other laws currently residing in the EU which are being repatriated by the Withdrawal Bill - also known as the ‘Repeal Bill’.

The government has made it explicitly clear from the beginning that the Withdrawal bill is merely a technical ‘cut and paste’ job, and that “the same rules and laws will apply on the day after exit as on the day before”[1]. Contrary to that promise, the intentional exclusion of the Charter from the transposition process means the bill is facilitating large-scale policy changes.

It cannot be underestimated how significant day 3 of Committee Stage is; the removal of the Charter would see British people lose a whole range of rights and protections. Critically, this move by the government undermines its argument that the bill is merely technical and about preserving legal continuity on Brexit day. This has led the Alliance to call on the government to keep to its promise and bring all powers and rights back to the UK in one piece; that means the Charter must not be lost.

This demand also comes in light of comments made by Suella Fernandes in an article for the Sun over the weekend[2]. Fernandes argued that the rights under the Charter “should not even exist”. A key motivation behind Brexit was to take back control  over lawmaking, and Parliament will no doubt want to make policy changes post-Brexit. However, the Alliance is calling on the government to stick to it’s word and keep the Withdrawal Bill focussed on technical changes and creating legal continuity, rather than use the bill as a backdoor avenue to making sweeping policy changes by removing hardwon rights and freedoms.

Speaking on behalf of the Alliance, Martha Spurrier, Director of Liberty, said:

“Ministers claim the EU (Withdrawal) Bill is about certainty – yet they have unilaterally decided to abandon the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the crucial protections it gives us.

“If the Government wants to get on with a smooth and orderly transition, now is not the time for nakedly politicised moves and arguments over rights. MPs who believe in freedom, fairness and standing up for their constituents’ rights should vote to keep the Charter today.”

The Alliance represents over 80 organisations from across civil society that are calling for the Withdrawal Bill to be amended to ensure open and accountable lawmaking in the transposition process, and a maintaining of a high standards UK[3].

ENDS

Notes to Editors

[1]  EU (Withdrawal) Bill explanatory notes https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/2017-2019/0005/en/18005en.pdf

(10) The principal purpose of the Bill is to provide a functioning statute book on the day the UK leaves the EU. As a general rule, the same rules and laws will apply on the day after exit as on the day before. It will then be for Parliament and, where appropriate, the devolved legislatures to make any future changes. (p5)

(14) The Bill does not aim to make major changes to policy or establish new legal frameworks in the UK beyond those which are necessary to ensure the law continues to function properly from day one. The Government will introduce separate primary legislation to make such policy changes which will establish new legal frameworks. (p6)

[2] https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/4946570/opinion-uk-human-rights-should-not-be-the-eu-charter/

[3] https://repealbill.org/about-us/


About the Alliance

The Repeal Bill Alliance comprises over 80 organisations from across civil society that are calling for the EU (Withdrawal) Bill to be amended to secure: open and accountable lawmaking in the transposition process; and to maintain a high standards UK.

For more information visit the Alliance’s website: https://repealbill.org/

Contact: Jane Thomas (The Alliance’s Coordinator) - jane@repealbill.org or 07957 240826

Malene Bratlie