LABOUR would block the Great Repeal Bill if the government continues to refuse to transfer the European Charter of Fundamental Rights to British law.
The EU charter outlines 54 principles including justice, citizens’ rights, health, workers’ rights, equality, freedoms, dignity and solidarity.
However the Bill, formally known as the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, confirms that it will be ditched.
It was given its first Commons reading yesterday and will be published ahead of a debate in autumn.
Ministers believe the rights in the charter are already contained in the EU rules, which the Bill will convert into domestic law on the day of Brexit.
But trade unions and opposition parties fear that so-called “Henry VIII powers” would allow the government to change or scrap laws without consent at a later date.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady called the dropping of the charter a “Downing Street power grab.”
Britain’s largest union Unite is calling for a 66 per cent threshold for removal of any EU legislation that protects workers and living standards to be set, amid fears that some in the Conservative Party are “itching” to remove safeguards.
Concerns were also echoed by civil liberties group Liberty, which called for charter rights and freedoms to be put down in “black and white.”
Liberty director Martha Spurrier added: “If the Repeal Bill passes in this state, people in Britain will lose rights after we leave the EU. It is that simple and the stakes are that high.”
Communist Party of Britain general secretary Rob Griffiths however warned that the charter also enshrines big business rights such as the free movement of capital and the right for businesses to establish themselves wherever they choose.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn met EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels yesterday with shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer and shadow home secretary Diane Abbott.
He said Labour is “a government in waiting” and ready to carry out negotiations after PM Theresa May lost her slim Commons majority.
The team was expected to discuss Labour’s priorities for a jobs-first Brexit deal, citizens’ rights, exit obligations, and Ireland’s border arrangements.
Labour said it would guarantee EU nationals’ rights without waiting for a reciprocal offer from Brussels.
Ms May and Brexit Secretary David Davis have made a plea to the opposition to collaborate over Brexit after long insisting they were the best party to take care of the transition.