The U.K. government signed legislation into force that will ensure EU law will cease to apply in Britain after the current Brexit deadline of Oct. 31.
In a “landmark moment,” Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay on Sunday repealed the European Communities Act (ECA) that has automatically transferred EU laws into domestic statute since the country joined the European Economic Community (as was) in 1972.
According to a statement issued by Barclay, the announcement of the Act’s repeal marks a historic step in returning lawmaking powers from Brussels to the United Kingdom and provides a “clear signal” that the government intends to leave the European Union without extending the Brexit deadline—with or without a deal.
“There is no turning back—we are leaving the EU as promised on October 31, whatever the circumstances—delivering on the instructions given to us in 2016,” said Barclay.
“The ECA saw countless EU regulations flowing directly into U.K. law for decades, and any government serious about leaving on October 31 should show their commitment to repealing it,” he said.
“That is what we are doing by setting in motion that repeal. This is a landmark moment in taking back control of our laws from Brussels,” Barclay added, echoing the campaign slogan of the hard-line Brexiteers in the referendum.
The government has since turned up the heat further on Brexit by announcing Monday that “freedom of movement” rules allowing EU nationals to live and work freely in the United Kingdom will end in the event of a no-deal Brexit on Oct. 31.
Former Prime Minister Theresa May had considered extending freedom of movement to 2021 or allowing EU citizens to stay for three months before applying for a longer stay. Those options have now been dropped in favor of a new approach—as yet unannounced.
Since his appointment, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been keen to be seen to act decisively on Brexit, though without providing much detail about how he intends to actually carry it out.
And his blustering rhetoric does not seem to match the assessments of Whitehall chiefs. Leaked government documents reported in The Sunday Times warn of serious disruptions across the country in the event the United Kingdom leaves the European Union without a trade deal on Oct. 31.
The documents quote officials as warning that up to 85 percent of all trucks would not be ready for French customs at the critical English Channel crossing that day, causing tailbacks that could stretch out for days and resulting in “significant” disruptions to the supply of drugs and medicine, a decrease in the availability of fresh food, and even potential fresh water shortages due to possible interruptions of imported water treatment chemicals.
However, Michael Gove, the U.K. minister in charge of no-deal preparations, has insisted the assessment is “out of date” and represents a “worst case scenario”.