Brexit Legislation

Debate on the EU (Future Relationship) Bill in the House of Commons, December 2020 | Source: UK Parliament
Debate on the EU (Future Relationship) Bill in the House of Commons, December 2020 | Source: UK Parliament


A significant amount of primary and secondary legislation is required to deal with Brexit and ensure the functioning of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland. Primary legislation is made by Acts of Parliament. Secondary legislation, also called ‘delegated legislation’, is made by Ministers under powers given to them in primary legislation. Primary legislation can be described as the framework for a policy, while secondary legislation provides the detail within that framework.

The following is a list of EU Exit-related primary legislation. Acts have been made, while Bills are in the process of being enacted by the UK Parliament:

In the Queen’s Speech 2022, the UK Government announced its plans for post-Brexit regulation and legislation, including the following Bills:

On 13 June 2022, the UK Government published the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill. This Bill would disapply core parts of the Protocol relating to trade in goods, subsidy control, the role of the Court of Justice of the EU, plus allow changes to VAT. The Government has also published a policy paper and explanatory notes for the Bill, as well as its legal position. The Bill contains provisions which cover devolved or transferred matters and where the Bill engages the Legislative Consent Motion process, the UK Government will seek consent from the devolved administrations.

According to the Sewel Convention, when the UK Parliament is legislating on matters within the devolved competence of the administrations of Northern Ireland, Wales, and Scotland, the Government should “not normally” do so without the consent of the devolved administration. The devolved administrations can indicate their consent for Westminster to legislate on a devolved matter by agreeing a legislative consent motion (LCM). You can find details of the LCMs which the Assembly has considered in relation to Brexit by following this link. Ultimately, the principle of parliamentary sovereignty means that Westminster has the power to legislate on any matter, whether devolved or not.

The EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 gave Ministers power to create statutory instruments (SIs) to manage the legal issues caused by Brexit and ensure the law will function properly. SIs are the most common type of secondary legislation. UK statutory instruments will make most regulatory and legislative changes related to Brexit. Scrutiny of SIs is a matter for the UK Parliament.

Departments in the Northern Ireland Executive also have powers to bring forward secondary legislation in the form of Statutory Rules.  These rules are made in accordance with powers granted in the ‘parent’ or primary legislation.  Northern Ireland Assembly Committees undertake scrutiny of this secondary legislation. Read the details of the Brexit-related Statutory Rules passed by the Assembly. If you want to learn more about Statutory Rules, a useful FAQ can be found here.



Example of a Statutory Rule
Example of a Statutory Rule

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