In a blow to the Prime Minister, two groups of peers hit out at Theresa May’s Brexit plan, which aimed to bringing UK laws, regulations and borders back under British control.
The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, which will be debated by peers for the first time on Tuesday, has been heavily criticised in a damning report by the Lords Constitution Committee.
The peers said the Bill was “fundamentally flawed” in multiple ways and risked “undermining legal certainty” – a damning assessment of Mrs May’s Brexit vision.
Meanwhile, a second cross-party panel of peers said the Government’s plans to leave the single market could cause energy prices to rise for households across the country
The Government wants the EU (Withdrawal) Bill – previously dubbed the Great Repeal Bill – to transpose rules and regulations from Brussels into domestic law in time for Brexit.
But the Lords Constitution Committee said the task was complicated not only by its “scale and complexity” but also because “in many areas the final shape of that law will depend on the outcome of the UK’s negotiations with the EU”.
They added: “We conclude that the Bill risks fundamentally undermining legal certainty in a number of ways.”
The method proposed to create a new category of “retained EU law” will cause “problematic uncertainties and ambiguities”, the peers said.
Plans to grant ministers power to amend regulations without full parliamentary scrutiny are “overly-broad” and there is an “unacceptably wide” emergency procedure for short-term changes.
And failure to secure agreement from Holyrood and Cardiff Bay about the devolution of powers returned from Brussels could have “significant constitutional repercussions”, the peers warned.
“The Bill is therefore fundamentally flawed from a constitutional perspective in multiple ways,” the report said.
Committee chairwoman Baroness Taylor of Bolton said: “We acknowledge the scale, challenge and unprecedented nature of the task of converting existing EU law into UK law, but as it stands this Bill is constitutionally unacceptable.”
In a separate report, the Lords EU Energy and Environment Sub-committee examined the impact of the Government’s plans on the energy market and warned that bills could rise and major projects could be disrupted.
But the peers said the UK was on course to be outside the EU’s internal energy market as a result of the Government’s plans to leave the single market and jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice.
The peers said: “It is likely that the UK’s withdrawal from the EU will lead to less efficient energy trade, which could in turn increase the price paid by consumers for energy security.”
The committee also highlighted a warning from energy giant EDF that “without access to EU labour it will be difficult to complete construction of the new nuclear power facility at Hinkley Point” in Somerset.
A Department for Exiting the European Union spokesman said: “The purpose of this Bill is to ensure the UK has a functioning statute book on exit day. It is an essential piece of legislation in the national interest.
“This is a long and detailed report, and we will consider it carefully.
“From the beginning we have been committed to working collaboratively with Parliamentarians to improve the Bill wherever possible. We will continue to do so in the Lords.”