Brexit legislation under fire as it enters upper house

29 Jan, 2018 2:15 pm

LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Theresa May faces a fresh challenge pushing her flagship Brexit law through parliament after lawmakers demanded changes only a day before parliament’s upper house begins to debate the legislation.

The House of Lords Constitution Committee said in a report published on Monday that the legislation to end Britain’s European Union membership has “fundamental flaws”, including ministerial powers it considers too sweeping.

“We acknowledge the scale, challenge and unprecedented nature of the task of converting existing EU law into UK law, but as it stands this bill is constitutionally unacceptable,” said committee chairwoman Ann Taylor.

The legislation is likely to be given a rough ride by the largely pro-EU lawmakers in the upper house and comes as Prime Minister May battles rebellion within her own party over the best route out of the bloc, which Britain is scheduled to leave in March 2019.

The Lords committee expressed concern that the government will use the Brexit process to reshape EU laws without proper parliamentary scrutiny as they move into British law.

“The bill grants ministers overly-broad powers to do whatever they think is ‘appropriate’ to correct ‘deficiencies’ in retained EU law,” the report said. “This gives ministers far greater latitude than is constitutionally acceptable.”

The committee also urged the government to reach agreement about which powers currently held in Brussels will return to Britain’s central government and which will be devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The legislation was cleared by the House of Commons this month and will begin its journey through the House of Lords on Jan. 30. It is expected to take until the summer for it to become law.

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