Ministers face a “political nightmare” over the Brexit Repeal Bill that could end Theresa May’s stint as Prime Minister, the Liberal Democrats have warned.
Tim Farron, who has already told the Government it faces “hell” over the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill published on Thursday, appealed to MPs from all parties to work together to amend the legislation to defend workers’ rights and the environment.
“The Government are facing a parliamentary version of guerrilla warfare that resembles the days of the Maastricht Treaty,” he said.
“But this debate is not just a quagmire for the Government, it is also a political nightmare that could end Theresa May’s premiership.
“This Bill might keep a few restless people on the Tory backbenches from looking around for her replacement for a couple of months, but it has all the hallmarks of someone in office but not in power.”
Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones described the Bill as a “crude power grab “which strikes at the heart of devolution” and warned he would not recommend the Welsh Assembly gives it legislative consent unless it is amended.
He said: “We have repeatedly tried to engage with the UK Government and have put forward constructive proposals about how we can deliver a Brexit which honours the result of the referendum, safeguards the economy and respects devolution.
“Regrettably, our attempts to work with the UK Government have been flatly ignored.
“Instead of mature and constructive engagement, the UK Government has shown astounding ignorance in the publication of this Bill, which is an insult to the devolved nations.
“The UK should be entering Brexit negotiations from a position of unity so we have the best possible chance of securing a good deal with the interests of all parts of the UK at its heart.
“Instead, the Government appears determined to provoke a constitutional conflict we do not need.
“If the Bill is not amended, there is no prospect of my Government recommending the National Assembly should give legislative consent to it.
“We will instead investigate ways in which we can use our existing legislative powers to help defend devolution.
“We will also work closely with the other devolved administrations; indeed, the Scottish First Minister and I will issue a joint statement today, in which we will make clear that we cannot support the Bill in its current form.”
Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas said there is an “environment-shaped hole” in the Bill and promised to seek to amend it.
“The Repeal Bill may transfer EU laws onto the British statute, but there’s no provision here for ensuring that these laws are properly enforced by institutions in the UK,” she said.
“The Government knows that this simple transfer isn’t enough to ensure that our environment is protected and their refusal to legislate for specific environmental protections and enforcement is reckless.”
The Local Government Association (LGA) said councils must be given a central role in deciding what EU laws to scrap, keep or amend after Brexit.
LGA chairman Lord Porter said: “The UK’s exit from the European Union will have a significant impact on local government, creating challenges that need to be addressed but also opportunities to do things differently.
“EU laws impact on many of the council services that affect people’s day-to-day lives.
“These range from deciding how to protect people from being served unsafe food when they eat out to regulating how councils buy goods and services.”