Responding to draft plans for the landmark Great Repeal Bill, the former Malton and Thirsk MP Lady McIntosh said any attempt to scrap or amend European Union law without Parliament’s consent will be “strongly resisted” by MPs and peers.
Her comments came as officials at the Department for Exiting the EU were forced to row back on comments made by Brexit Secretary David Davis, after he suggested MPs would be given a vote on membership of the European Economic Area (EEA).
They also came amid fresh concern about the future of Britain’s involvement in European security programmes, as figures reveal international arrest warrants have been used to deport more than 300 suspected criminals in West Yorkshire alone.
Unveiling the Government’s Great Repeal Bill white paper in the Commons today, Mr Davis described the legislation as the first major step toward “deliver[ing] greater control” to Parliament.
He told MPs: “Some have been concerned that Parliament will not play enough of a role in shaping the future of the country once we have left the European Union. Today’s white paper shows just how wrong that is.”
The Hull MP went on to confirm that in addition to transposing all existing European legislation into British law, the Bill will also grant the Government power to “correct” these laws without the need for new, or primary, legislation.
He explained that this would likely see Ministers introduce between 800-1,000 pieces of secondary legislation over the coming months, prompting Labour MPs to accuse the Government of a “power grab”.
Mr Davis defended the measures, arguing that the use of secondary legislation is a “long standing” practice and does not preclude scrutiny or debate.
But speaking to The Yorkshire Post, Lady McIntosh suggested the move would cause unrest among MPs and peers, and urged the Government to set aside more time to pass any reforms through Parliament.
“People were promised that if they left there would be Parliamentary scrutiny and we’d take back control,” the former MEP said.
“It is for Parliament to judge how big these changes are, not the Government... Parliament will strongly resist the lack of scrutiny.”
“We’ve got an 18 month period and if they allocated four to six hours a week they’d get through all they need to get through. So I think they need to do it though primary legislation.”
Mr Davis also indicated yesterday that MPs would be given a separate vote on the UK’s membership of the EEA. Responding to a question from Labour MP Kevin Brennan, he said the issue was “quite likely to come to Parliament”.
Joining the EEA would grant the UK membership of the single market, but at the price of accepting freedom of movement.
However, within hours of Mr Davis’s comments in the House, DExEU issued a fresh statement saying it does “not envisage a vote” on the matter.
Meanwhile, the Lib Dems launched a fresh attack on the Prime Minister’s perceived threat to use Britain’s cooperation in schemes like the European Arrest Warrant as a “bargaining chip” in negotiations.
In her letter to European Council President Donald Tusk, Theresa May said a failure to secure a new trade deal between the EU and UK “would mean our cooperation in the fight against crime and terrorism would be weakened”.
The Lib Dems have compiled figures which show that West Yorkshire police have deported 314 suspected criminals under the Arrest Warrant scheme since 2010.
The party’s home affairs spokesperson and former senior police chief Brian Paddick said: “Theresa May’s threat that the UK could withhold security cooperation with the EU would make streets in Yorkshire less safe.
“We need tools like the European Arrest Warrant to help ensure Britain’s most-wanted criminals are brought back to face justice.
“The UK’s ability to keep its people safe must not be negotiated away in the pursuit of a hard Brexit.”