August 15, 2017 : Craig Wilson

Brexit: The end of the beginning

“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” – Winston Churchill

After 14 months of wearying speculation and intrigue, Brexit is about to get very real. Soon, the phony war will end and we will begin to see a new reality sketched out before our very eyes. Sadly, this sketch is unlikely to resemble anything by Rubens or Delacroix – but, rather, something a creative toddler with a packet of crayons might demand is stuck on the fridge door.

As EU and UK leaders emerge from their trenches and march solemnly towards each other, we will begin to understand what the future will look like, in terms of our continuing relationship with the EU, where repatriated powers will sit, what rights we will continue to enjoy, how funding is replaced and redistributed and how long the whole sorry saga might be drawn out for.

A few opening salvos have already been fired; the EU outlining its (collective) key negotiating positions and the UK Government hastily catching up with demands and suggestions of its own. Of course, as in all negotiations, the larger player will hold the whip hand, and one has to imagine it will be the UK forced in to retreat when sticking points are reached.

On the home front, the UK Government is about to set the ball rolling on The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill (a.k.a. the ‘Great Repeal Bill’). This legislation is eye-watering in its scale, reach and complexity – aiming, as it does, to both disentangle the UK from the EU and transpose EU legislation in to domestic law.

To achieve this Herculean task within a reasonable timeframe, UK Government ministers intend to use a range of sweeping new powers to wave through changes and make further amendments without having to present new legislation to parliament.

While the government claims these powers are only required for expediency and to make “technical changes,” there are real concerns that lack of transparency, scrutiny and oversight could result in – either accidentally or deliberately – the undermining of everything from human rights and the environment to consumer protections, working conditions and equality protections.

To safeguard against this, it is clear that the organisations from across the third sector must bring their knowledge and expertise to bear – using this to influence decision makers and those who shape opinion.

To help marshal energy in this direction, the Repeal Bill Alliance has been formed. This loose coalition of campaign and advocacy organisations is currently collaborating to ensure pitfalls are avoided and the legislation makes its way through parliament in a productive way. The Repeal Bill Alliance comprises those of all political persuasions and none, and adopts a Brexit-neutral position.

As individuals, this process will be difficult for us to navigate. However, by using the Repeal Bill Alliance as a vehicle, we can expand our understanding of developments and feed in our own unique observations, challenges and concerns. Through weight of numbers, the Repeal Bill Alliance will provide us all with the opportunity to shape this legislation in a progressive way.

A broad and representative alliance is essential and we want to ensure all aspects of our sector are properly represented. With so many issues set to be impacted by the legislation, we are confident that the work of the Repeal Bill Alliance will be of interest and importance to you and your organisation.

More about the Repeal Bill Alliance and the work it is undertaking can be read in their Repeal Bill Alliance Bulletin – 14 August 2017. And, if you are interested in ‘joining up’ to the Alliance, you can do so here.

Important: Opinions expressed by bloggers are their own and don't represent those of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations.

by Craig Wilson