Government ‘Must Act to Embed Equality into UK Law Post-Brexit’

Date: 22nd March 2017
Category: Non-discrimination

The Government must act to embed equality into UK law after Brexit, according to a new report from the Women's and Equality Committee.

Equality, regardless of sex, race, religion or other factors, is protected as part of our human rights. However, human rights in the UK are currently protected by a complex collection of laws and treaties, many of which are underpinned by EU law.

The committee, which is made up of 14 MPs from different political parties, stressed the Government must take "active steps to embed equality into domestic law and policy".

What did the committee say?

Maria Miller MP, chair of the committee, said:

If the Government wants to maintain the current level of equality protection for vulnerable groups including pregnant women and disabled travellers, it must take active steps to embed equality into UK law.

Setting out the recommendations, the committee said the Government should include a clause on equality in the Great Repeal Bill, to ensure "there will be no going backwards". The Great Repeal Bill is a proposal to instantly annul all EU laws when Brexit officially happens, as well as giving Parliament the power to take parts it likes into UK law and scrap bits it doesn't want to keep.

The committee also suggested the Government should amend the 2010 Equality Act so Parliament and the Courts can declare if new laws are compatible with equality principles. Alongside this, they advocated setting up an equality strategy and taking steps to ensure equality projects which currently receive EU funding still gets cash.

What does Brexit mean for human rights?

It's difficult to say exactly what impact leaving the European Union will have on our human rights, as our rights are protected by a complex set of laws. EU law currently protects things like our rights at work, such as maternity leave and equal pay.

These rights won't disappear instantly on leaving the EU, but the strong international backdrop does. This makes it much easier for Government's to chip away at these rights.

The Joint Committee on Human Rights have also expressed their concern, warning the Government that fundamental rights are not "a bargaining chip"