The government has said it will not provide a running commentary on Brexit. FISP is not so constrained and so today we post the first blog entry on further Brexit developments and the Information Society since the FISP seminar on Brexit was held on 14th Sept. There have been two developments that give some clue as to the government’s thinking.
First, the government announced the “Great Repeal Bill” (GRB), to be included in the next Queen’s Speech, that will both repeal the European Communities Act 1972 and will make EU law part of UK law. This will have the effect of making any EU laws regarding the Information Society (and everything else) directly part of UK law, even after the UK has left the EU.
In effect, this is a move for continuity – all of the features of the EU regulatory package for telecoms, for example, will remain part of UK law even if they do not have equivalent clauses in the Communications Act 2003. There are two relevant Directives going through the process at the moment that may become UK law only through the GRB: the Digital Single Market and Civil Infrastructure Directives. Likewise, the revised package put forward for consultation by the European Commission in September may become part of UK law if it passed by the European Council and Parliament before Brexit. This suggests a move towards a “soft Brexit” unless and until the current or a future government decides to amend or repeal laws that affect the Information Society.
Secondly, and in contradiction to the above, the tone of speeches by the PM and others at the Conservative Party conference gave the strong impression of hard Brexit. She said “But let’s state one thing loud and clear: we are not leaving the European Union only to give up control of immigration all over again. And we are not leaving only to return to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. That’s not going to happen.” Other cabinet ministers responsible for Brexit left a similar impression.
So, quite how hard or soft a Brexit remains unclear. But if we are to believe actions rather than words, there will be some continuity after the UK leaves the EU – assuming of course that the GRB becomes law! There will not be a cliff edge that means one day we are part of an EU–wide legal system and the next day we are not.
What has not become any clearer in the past month is just what sort of industrial strategy the country will pursue post-Brexit and how that will affect the Information Society. FISP will continue to monitor developments and identify issues as they arise.