Lawyers from every Whitehall department are trawling through tens of thousands of pages of EU directives and regulations going back more than 40 years. According to some estimates there are more than 40,000 legal acts in the EU, as well as 15,000 court verdicts and 62,000 international standards. Some are already incorporated into UK law, but will need amending; others are not and will need incorporating.
A senior legal source with extensive experience of drafting legislation said he had seen a government email this week calling for commercial help from outside Whitehall to identify the legislation that needed changing. He accused the Department for Exiting the European Union of not having “the faintest clue what they’re up to”, saying that the legal team had the “wrong seniority, the wrong levels of experience, the wrong skillset”.
Other legal experts said that it would be next to impossible to incorporate such a vast body of law into UK legislation on a blanket basis because so much of it was relevant only while the UK was a member of the EU.
“You can’t just take the whole of EU law and plonk it into the UK legal system because so much of what the EU does is inherently cross border in nature,” Michael Dougan, professor of European law at the University of Liverpool, said. “Once you have left the EU that doesn’t make sense any more. It would be rather preposterous to leave the EU and still give full legal recognition to thousands of foreign decision-making bodies.”Is the ba' on the slates? You betcha!