Theresa May’s biggest conference dilemma was what to say about Brexit. She doesn’t want to trigger Article 50 yet, or even say when she will do so. Why, because the government hopes that the longer it waits, the more the rest of the EU will be inclined to have preliminary discussions before the actual negotiations start. But May had to have something to say to conference on Brexit.
So, May’s team have come up with an announcement that doesn’t involve Article 50 but does enable her to show ‘momentum’, and to claim she is getting on with things. It is a ‘Great Repeal Bill’ which will repeal the 1972 European Communities Act, but only when Britain actually leaves the EU. At the same time, all current EU law will be turned into domestic law which parliament can review at its leisure.
The second half of this announcement is simply what everyone expected to happen. The first part, though, is more creative—but it doesn’t actually push the process on. What it will reveal is how far the House of Lords is prepared to go in opposing Brexit.