Skip to main content

Brexit won't return power to MPs in Parliament, because Parliament itself won't let them take control

By Greg Rosen
19 June 2016
Public Affairs

First written for and published in The Telegraph

Perhaps the most powerfully held aspiration for Brexiteers is to restore UK parliamentary sovereignty: in the words of Michael Gove, to “take back control” and, of John Redwood, for Britain to “be a democracy again .

But what would this “taking back control” mean in practice? Brexiteers imply that while EU legislation is “imposed”, Westminster parliamentarians control non-EU law-making through active debates and votes.

Except they don’t, because for voters what impacts on their lives most is not primary legislation - Bills – on which parliamentarians can vote, but the meaningful detail of the Bills, which Whitehall civil servants and ministers increasingly choose to hide in secondary legislation (sometimes called delegated legislation of Statutory Instruments – SIs).

The scale of this was estimated for the Lords by former minister Baroness Andrews:

 “80 per cent of the laws as they impact on individuals are transported through statutory instruments, whether that is welfare benefits, food safety, planning requirements or competition across the NHS…”

Essentially Whitehall civil servants and ministers are defining important laws as “secondary legislation” in order to subvert the ability of parliament to choose whether to pass or not to pass laws...

To read the full article, click here.