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Brexit Bill: 'Lords have ripped up blank cheque book Ministers had sought to give themselves'

Welcoming the latest amendment passed in the House of Lords to the Government’s flagship Brexit legislation which places limits on the use of Ministerial ‘Henry VIII’ powers, Felix Jakens, Head of Campaigns at Amnesty UK, said:

“This is the biggest indication yet that the powers in the EU Withdrawal Bill had gone too far.

“The Lords have sent a clear message to the Commons; leaving the EU shouldn’t mean leaving rights behind.

“The Lords have ripped up the blank cheque book Ministers had sought to give themselves to rewrite laws behind closed doors. It’s a good day for rights and reason.”

Last week, Amnesty urged peers to pass the amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill, releasing new YouGov polling which showed widespread public concern over rights being reduced after Brexit.

Three quarters (75%) of those who expressed a view said they’d be concerned to be left with fewer rights and more than half of Leave voters (57%) said they too would be concerned to have fewer rights and protections after Brexit.

EU Withdrawal Bill concerns

The Government’s EU Withdrawal Bill includes a number of proposed changes to rights and protections for people in the UK after 29 March 2019, the current date for withdrawal.

Of all the legislation carried across from the EU after the UK leaves, fundamental human rights protections are the only element not being brought across wholesale. In particular Amnesty has criticised the Bill’s failure to retain the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights in domestic law, weakening the protections currently available to people in the UK. Amnesty has also pointed out that the Bill fails to retain people’s ability to bring a case founded on the EU “general principles”, which include protections such as the right to equality. In addition, Amnesty has raised concerns about how the Bill hands sweeping powers to Ministers to widely alter legislation without appropriate parliamentary scrutiny, warning that such powers place current rights and equality laws at risk in the future.

*Amnesty does not take a position on Brexit, but believes that leaving the EU should not mean losing human rights protections. The Government has itself stated that the purpose of the EU Withdrawal Bill is to provide “continuity” after Brexit, therefore Amnesty is determined to hold it to its word to ensure people are not left with fewer rights. Whether you voted in or out, Brexit should not mean losing out on rights.

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,640 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 28 - 29 March 2018. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

The complete findings of the survey are available at

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