Updated May 2, 2023

Log in →

Fresh blow to Retained EU Law Bill

The UK government is set for another U-turn, this time over the controversial Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill 2022, which aimed to remove all Retained EU legislation following Brexit, on 31 December 2023.

Just weeks ago it was reported that the united opposition in the House of Lords was set to block that Bill from proceeding any further due to effects on the Northern Ireland Protocol, possible damaging effects to the economy, environment and health and safety through extensive deregulation as well as the lack of time to adapt UK legislation to cover the scrapped EU-derived laws.

During her morning briefing to Conservative MPs, the Business Secretary, Kemi Badenoch, who is currently responsible for the Bill, told her peers that only about 800 of the EU-derived laws may be scrapped out of nearly 4,000 pieces originally targeted. She told the group of MPs who supported the Bill that her officials concluded it was not possible to remove thousands of laws and these plans could not be rushed.

According to the government's source, this move has been welcomed by businesses as well as civil servants, who faced a huge task of overhauling the statute book to implement changes. An ally of the Business Secretary said that the government wants to "streamline regulation" but not "get rid of stuff for its own sake". "We want to do it properly. It has to be done line by line. These things need proper thought and consideration, not blanket scrapping."

These proposed changes to the Bill sparked fury among Tory Brexiteers, who told the Financial Times that Badenoch had "turned on its head" the principle of the Bill. Jacob Rees-Mogg, who lead the creation of the Bill as the Minister of State for Brexit Opportunities and Government Efficiency (now defunct), said on this matter: "The question is, are we now getting — instead of the roast beef of the full Brexit that we were hoping for, with roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings and lashings of gravy, merely thin gruel?"

The former Brexit Secretary, David Davis, speaking with POLITICO, said: "The truth is that quite a lot of EU law makes little difference for a variety of reasons,"

"One is [they are] minor legislation, often consistent with other international legislation that we would be inclined to obey, like the U.N. regulations in the automotive sector. But on the other hand, there are some that make a big difference and matter to the country — those are the ones that we should be focused on."

"The slogan in the Brexit campaign was 'take back control,' to give control to Westminster, not to give it to Whitehall. If you try to rush everything at once the House of Commons will not have time to scrutinize it properly," he said. "My view is that we should continue reviewing them in the longer term."

For more information on this subject, see:

View all stories