Ministers ditch promised end-of-year ‘bonfire’ of remaining EU laws

Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch (Jonathan Brady/PA) (PA Wire)
Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch (Jonathan Brady/PA) (PA Wire)

Ministers have ditched their promise to complete a post-Brexit “bonfire” of remaining EU-era laws by the end of the year.

Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch said on Wednesday around 600 laws would be revoked under their planned legislation rather than the 4,000 pledged, insisting it is “about more than a race to a deadline”.

The climbdown is likely to anger Tory Brexiteers but be welcomed by critics who warned the project was unfeasible and that important regulations would be scrapped without proper scrutiny.

Ms Badenoch acknowledged there are “risks of legal uncertainty” by automatically scrapping the copied-over laws by the end of the year in a sunset clause in the Retained EU Law Bill.

In a written statement to MPs, Ms Badenoch said ministers will amend the Bill making its way through Parliament to replace the current sunset with a list of 600 EU laws to be revoked by the end of the year.

“We will still fully take back control of our laws and end the supremacy and special status of retained EU law by the end of 2023,” she said.

She said a further 500 pieces of retained EU legislation would be revoked by other means, but it was unclear if that will happen by the end of the year.

It had been estimated that around 3,700 laws would need ditching but governmental departments are understood to have now identified around 4,800 retained laws.

Ms Badenoch said around 1,000 had been scrapped already and sought to defend the move in an article for the Daily Telegraph, writing: “We will not abolish any law for the sake of it.

“Getting rid of EU law in the UK should be about more than a race to a deadline.”