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Repeal Bill will target the deportation of criminals as Britain 'takes back control'



British Prime Minister Theresa May leaving 10 Downing Street yesterday. Photo: AP

British Prime Minister Theresa May leaving 10 Downing Street yesterday. Photo: AP


British Prime Minister Theresa May leaving 10 Downing Street yesterday. Photo: AP

Britain began to take back control from Brussels yesterday as Brexit Secretary David Davis said that the first EU law to be scrapped after Brexit would be the one that helps criminals avoid deportation.

Revealing details of the forthcoming Great Repeal Bill, Mr Davis told MPs that the controversial Charter of Fundamental Rights would be dropped on the day Britain leaves Europe.

There were cheers as Mr Davis announced that Britain would be regaining the sovereignty it last enjoyed in 1972.

"A strong, independent country needs control of its own laws. That process starts now," he said.

A day after Prime Minister Theresa May invoked Article 50, EU leaders reiterated their refusal to discuss a trade deal until the UK had paid its "divorce bill".

Francois Hollande, the French president, told Ms May in a phone call that Britain must agree to meet its "obligations" first, while senior EU officials said it was "highly unlikely" the other 27 member states would give ground.

Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister, voiced a new tactic to frustrate Brexit by threatening to veto the Great Repeal Bill in the Scottish parliament.

Mr Davis published a 37-page White Paper on the objectives of the Bill, which will convert EU laws into UK laws on the day Britain quits Europe, enabling parliament to choose which it wishes to retain. Mr Davis said the bill would "provide clarity and certainty for businesses, workers and consumers".

It will repeal the European Communities Act 1972 - which provides the legal underpinning of Britain's EU membership - on the day Brexit takes effect in March 2019.

Mr Davis said that doing so "enables the return to this parliament of the sovereignty we ceded in 1972 and ends the supremacy of EU law in this country", ensuring that "power sits closer to the people of the United Kingdom than ever before".

MP Bill Cash, chairman of the European scrutiny committee, said Britain would immediately benefit when the Charter of Fundamental Rights was dropped because "it provides protection for people who have no right to be protected".

"There is a disproportionate number of those in prison convicted of crimes which warrant deportation who, by virtue of human rights legislation, including and in particular the consequences of the charter, are not able to be deported because of case law," he said.

The charter has also been used as the basis for a so-called "right to be forgotten", with criminals using the courts to force Google to block searches about past convictions.

Britain will still be a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights, which is not part of EU law.


Meanwhile, Mr Davis has rejected suggestions that the UK has threatened to end security co-operation unless it gets a good trade deal with the bloc's remaining member countries.

A former deputy assistant commissioner with the Metropolitan Police had accused Ms May of an "implied threat" by linking trade and security co-operation in the Brexit talks.

Liberal Democrat Lord Paddick said the "implied threat" made in her Article 50 letter "that the UK will withhold security co-operation with the EU if it does not get the trade deal it wants, was insensitive, reckless or an empty threat".

But Mr Davis said Ms May's letter triggering talks on Britain's departure made clear Britain wants to continue to work with the EU on a range of issues, including security. "We want a deal, and she was making the point that it's bad for both of us if we don't have a deal," he told the BBC. "Now that, I think, is a perfectly reasonable point to make and not in any sense a threat."

Ms May's six-page letter launching two years of divorce negotiations made 11 references to security, and said that without a good deal, "our co-operation in the fight against crime and terrorism would be weakened".

Home Secretary Amber Rudd, whose responsibilities include intelligence and security, also denied Ms May's letter carried a threat, but told Sky News: "If we left Europol, then we would take our information ... with us. The fact is, the European partners want to keep our information."

Senior European leaders responded positively to the warm overall tone of Ms May's letter - but they could not miss the steely undertone.

"I find the letter of Ms May very constructive generally, but there is also one threat in it," European Parliament Brexit co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt said, adding that she seemed to be demanding a good trade deal in exchange for continued security co-operation. (© Daily Telegraph, London)