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Theresa May Britain gets down to Brexit on day one, with new bill to replace EU laws

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Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May signs a letter to European Council President Donald Tusk invoking Article 50 and signalling the UK's intention to leave the EU, in the cabinet office inside 10 Downing Street on March 28, 2017 play

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May signs a letter to European Council President Donald Tusk invoking Article 50 and signalling the UK's intention to leave the EU, in the cabinet office inside 10 Downing Street on March 28, 2017

(POOL/AFP)

Britain’s Brexit Secretary, David Davis, on Thursday, paved the way in the House of Commons for what would be one of the biggest pieces of legislation in British history.

Davis announced a consultation document on the government’s proposed Great Repeal Bill which would absorb thousands of pieces of EU laws and regulations into British law.

EU laws covering everything from worker’s rights to consumer and environmental issues would be scrapped or replaced with British equivalents, with the government saying worker’s rights would be improved under British law.

According to Davis, the repeal bill will allow businesses in Britain to continue operating on the day after UK leaves the EU, knowing that the rules have not changed overnight.

The move came just 24 hours after Prime Minister Theresa May triggered article 50 to start the process of Britain leaving the EU.

The government document, known as a White Paper, has set out how the Great Repeal Bill would ensure a functioning statute book once Britain has left the EU.

It has also paved the way for the repeal of the European Communities Act of 1972 which originally took Britain into membership of the EU.

“The White Paper lays out the approach to converting EU law into British law on the day Britain leaves the EU around March 2019,’’ Davis said.

He said a significant proportion of existing EU law would cease to work properly without changes being made.

“To enable these laws to function properly on exit the government needs to undertake a program of legislation to correct the statute book while Article 50 negotiations take place,’’ Davis said.

Davis also said the government will use the opportunity to make sure more decisions are devolved to parliaments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

He told MPs that they have been cleared that they wanted a smooth and orderly exit, and the Great Repeal Bill was integral to that approach.

“It will mean that as we exit the EU and seek a new, deep and special partnership with the EU, we will be doing so from a position where we have the same standards and rules.

“It will also ensure we deliver on our promise to end the supremacy of European Union law in the UK as we exit.

“Our laws will then be made in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast and interpreted not by judges in Luxembourg, but by judges across the UK.”

Davis said there would be a series of government bills to debate and vote on, both before and after Britain has left the EU.

Stressing the importance of the Great Repeal Bill, he said it would be vital to ensuring a smooth and orderly Brexit.

“These steps are crucial to implementing the result of the referendum in the national interest,’’ Davis stressed.

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