No plans to delay EU laws ‘bonfire’ deadline, says Government

The Government has said that there are no plans to delay the deadline of the so-called “bonfire” of EU laws following reports that Rishi Sunak’s pledge, scheduled to be completed by the end of the year, was proving difficult.

The Times reported on Saturday that Downing Street is considering a six-month extension to the Government’s plan to amend, repeal and replace around 4,000 pieces of EU law retained after Brexit.

The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill has proved controversial, with questions too over the feasibility of combing through such a considerable amount of legislation in such a relatively short period of time.

The Bill, currently in the House of Lords, allows nearly all remaining retained EU law to be either repealed or absorbed into UK domestic law by December 31 2023.

No 10 is considering a six-month extension to the target, according to the Times, which would mean the promise could still be met before the next general election.

But a Government spokesman said that there were “no plans to change the sunset deadline”.

“The Retained EU Law Bill will enable us to amend or remove burdensome retained EU law and ensure we can create the best regulatory environment in the UK to drive economic growth, boost innovation and develop a competitive advantage in future technology,” the spokesman said.

“The programme to review, revoke and reform retained EU law is under way and there are no plans to change the sunset deadline.”

Ministers are reportedly also considering whether to make concessions to peers, amid considerable concern in the Lords about the Government’s plans.

The paper suggests that the Government may publish a list of all the laws that will be scrapped, while also committing to retaining high-profile and fiercely defended EU regulations such as the working-time directive and pieces of environmental law.

The UK Retained EU Law Bill was among the topics discussed at a meeting in London last month when the UK and the EU formally signed off on the Windsor Framework, although sources at the time stressed that Brussels was not raising concerns about the proposed legislation.

Any such delay could prove controversial, with the move likely to prompt criticism from Tory Brexiteers on the backbenches.