EU expert warns ‘chaos’ could ensue if competing repatriation laws are passed

Tobias Lock

A legal academic has suggested “there may be chaos” if vying bills on the repatriation of powers from the EU all enter into force.

The devolved Scottish and Welsh administrations have introduced continuity bills in an attempt to acquire all the powers that will return to the UK following Brexit.

However, the UK government is seeking to retain 24 powers after making concessions to the devolved administrations in an analysis it made of 153 policy areas returning to the UK.

Tobias Lock, lecturer in EU law at Edinburgh University (pictured), told The Financial Times: “If all these bills enter into force in Westminster, Scotland and Wales, you will have a huge degree of legal uncertainty and resolving the difference will be difficult.

“There will be an act of the Scottish parliament claiming to do ‘x’ and an act of the Westminster parliament claiming to do ‘y’. There may be chaos.”

But Mr Lock does not think the issue will halt Brexit as the UK can continue the Brexit process to its completion without the consent of the devolved administrations, which is sought only as a matter of convention and has no legal force.

“The Scottish government has given up on the idea of using the EU withdrawal bill to block Brexit altogether,” Mr Lock said.

“The risk instead is that, without compromise, we might end up with a very untidy situation regarding legislation governing Scotland, Wales and the UK.”

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