Sunak warned against ‘nightmare’ plans to tear up EU laws

Dominic Raab gives update on Brexit

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Controversial Government plans to scrap EU laws by the end of the year have received staunch opposition among business leaders, a recent poll has revealed. Ministers were accused of an “appallingly reactionary approach” as criticism mounted in the House of Lords of the post-Brexit Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill.

Rishi Sunak’s draft legislation, which has already been before MPs, has received a stormy reception in the upper chamber, with calls for it to be ditched.

There has been condemnation of the Bill, which could see more than 4,000 laws amended, repealed, or replaced by the end of 2023, with limited parliamentary scrutiny over ministerial decisions and no ability to change them.

Opponents argue it hands too much power to the Government, creates uncertainty, and threatens legal rights and protections.

A survey conducted on behalf of an alliance of environmental and public safety organisations saw 68 percent of businesses surveyed warning the Bill will create more uncertainty.

Moreover, 64 percent of respondents believed the plans will fail to boost economic growth in the UK, as promised by the Government.

The polling was commissioned by charity Unchecked UK and supported by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the Women’s Institute, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and the Wildlife Trusts.

63 percent of respondents said the Bill would restrict access to trade markets for UK businesses.

Roger Barker, director of policy and governance at the Institute of Directors, said: “Reviewing thousands of pieces of EU-derived legislation by the end of 2023 risks creating a bureaucratic nightmare for both business and the civil service. This is the last thing that business needs in such a fragile economic environment.”

The Bill has led to demands for safeguards across a wide range of areas, from travel compensation for holidaymakers through to child seat belt rules.

Criticising the Bill, Tory former Cabinet minister Lord Deben said: “All this throws into doubt everything.

“We have been a member of the European Union and we are not any longer. I am sorry about that, but I am one of those that wants to draw a line underneath that and behave sensibly from now on.

“Not to have this appallingly reactionary approach, which says because it’s got EU on it there’s something wrong with it.

“Let’s consider it properly and sensibly.”

He added: “No Conservative in my knowledge of history has ever proposed that the decision as to whether we should have, let us say, so important a thing as wearing seat belts for children, shall not be our job in this House and in the elected House, but shall be the job of ministers.”

Liberal Democrat former MEP Baroness Ludford said: “This Bill is revolutionary and anarchic so we have an anarchist revolution from a Conservative government.

“Another way of putting it is it’s a compete mess.”

Labour frontbencher Lord Collins said: “I believe in the cock-up theory of history and this is certainly one of those cases.

“It’s about confidence. Confidence of business. Confidence of consumers. People knowing what the law will be.

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“We have a situation here, sadly, where I don’t think the Government knows what it’s doing.”

He added: “I think it’s absolutely appalling that the Government has produced this Bill without any idea of its consequences. They haven’t thought it through and it should be thrown out by all sides.”

Responding, Cabinet Office minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe said: “I feel comfortable with what we are doing as a Conservative.

“We will be making our legislation more appropriate, updating it where that is needed and improving the quality and getting away from gold-plating as appropriate, whilst maintaining necessary protections.”

She added: “Each department is carrying a review of their own regulations and they will do this in a responsible way.”

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